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Systemic means affecting all body systems and organs rather than being localized in one area or organ.
Systemic can refer to a disease, symptom, medication or injury. For example, a bad case of the flu (influenza) affects your entire body. Medications such as aspirin or ibuprofen have anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects throughout the body from your head to your toes. In the same fashion, chemical substances you might encounter in your workplace can also affect your entire body. Unfortunately, these are much more likely to be harmful or toxic.
Systemic effects usually display differing levels of toxicity to the various organs in your body. In most cases, the major effects are primarily to one or two organs in which case these are referred to as target organ effects.
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This word is usually found in the phrase "systemic effects" on a Safety Data Sheet. Materials that damage more than one area or organ of the body are particularly dangerous because not all parts of the body respond to medical treatment in the same way and impairment of one organ/system may reduce the ability of another organ/system to heal or function.
Always use proper personal protective equipment (PPE) when working with materials that can cause systemic effects. Section 8 (exposure controls/personal protection) of the SDS will alert you to the potential exposure pathways and appropriate PPE to use when working with the material. Pay attention to the three principle routes of exposure, skin absorption, inhalation, and ingestion.
See also: symptomatic.
Additional definitions from Google and OneLook.
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