Asking this question on behalf of a colleague from another university (so if there are follow-up questions, there may be a communications delay in answering them):
What kinds of delayed reactions are known for iodoacetic or concentrated sulfuric acid?
Here’s the background:
A graduate student was working with concentrated sulfuric acid to acidify wastewater (wastewater treatment plant effluent) samples, and spiking them with iodoacetic acid (small quantities, since it was a spike). An experienced student, who had done this before , she was wearing nitrile gloves (the typical disposable type). To the best of her knowledge, she had no skin contact with the chemicals she was using and used proper glove removal technique.
Approximately a day or so later, she noticed a blistered looking patch on the back of her hand, near the joint of the thumb and first finger bones – about the size of a nickel. It spread, and by about four days after the presumed exposure, covered approximately half of the back of the hand. On-campus medical referred to a more experienced doctor, who ended up referring the student to a hospital with burn expertise (including chemical burns). The campus EH&S felt the response was due to the sulfuric or maybe the iodoacetic acids; the hospital agreed it looked like a chemical burn. The assumption is that acid penetrated the gloves or fell off the gloves onto skin during removal.
Treatment ended up including cadaver skin transplant; the student seems to be recovering well and doing fine. However, all involved would like a better understanding of what might have happened.
Information related to the question above, or other ideas as to what else you might consider checking for possibilities, is welcomed.
Susan D. Wiediger, Ph.D.
Professor of Chemistry
Southern Illinois University Edwardsville
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