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7.4.2 Ingestion

Chemical exposure through ingestion occurs by absorption of chemicals through the digestive tract. Ingestion of chemicals can occur directly and indirectly. Direct ingestion can occur by accidently eating or drinking a chemical; with proper housekeeping and labeling, this is less likely to occur. A higher probability of receiving a chemical exposure can occur by way of indirect ingestion. This can occur when food or drink is brought into a chemical laboratory. The food or drink can then absorb chemical contaminants (vapors or dusts) in the air and result in a chemical exposure when the food or drink is consumed. This can also occur when food or drink is stored with chemicals, such as in a refrigerator. Ingestion can occur when a laboratory worker who handles chemicals does not wear gloves or practice good personal hygiene, such as frequent hand washing, and then leaves the laboratory to eat, drink, or smoke. In all cases, a chemical exposure can result, although the effects of chronic exposure may not manifest itself until years later.

Symptoms of chemical exposure through ingestion include metallic or other strange tastes in the mouth, stomach discomfort, vomiting, problems swallowing, and a general ill feeling.

If you think you may have accidentally ingested a chemical, seek medical attention immediately and/or call the Poison Control Center at 1-(800) 222-1222 or Cornell Police at 911 from a campus phone or 607-255-1111 from a cell phone or off campus phone.

After seeking medical attention, complete an Injury/Illness Report.

The best protection against ingestion of chemicals is to properly label all chemical containers, never consume food or drink or chew gum in laboratories, always wear PPE (such as gloves), and practice good personal hygiene, such as frequent hand washing.