Date: Fri, 29 Jul 2011 16:23:19 -0400
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From: ILPI <info**At_Symbol_Here**ILPI.COM>
Subject: Phenol/cresol first aid question

We had an email inquiry in our MSDS Questions mailbox today that I thought would be worth discussing on the list.

This person was contemplating the instructions for skin exposure on the MSDS's for phenol, cresol and related materials.  The MSDS's generally say to flush immediately with water while removing affected clothing, but his concern was that rinsing immediately with water would present more of a health hazard because doing so would further spread phenol-laden water over a larger area of the body, giving a wider/systemic exposure.   He was suggesting that spilled material should first be wiped off the skin using a towel/tissue and then use water.

My thoughts on this are
1. His proposal adds an extra step, and with phenols any delay is dangerous.
2. The person is either going to have to stop and put on gloves (see item 1) or else risk further skin exposure on the hands.
3. The phenol-laden rinse water is going to be very quickly flushed away and have little chance to absorb.  It does not
     seem likely that rinsate could pose a serious systemic threat, and any threat it does pose pales in comparison to a delay.

Does anyone have any thoughts/comments to add for our reply to this question?


Rob Toreki

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