Turpentine is a natural substance derived from pine trees and has many industrial and household applications. However, bodily exposure to turpentine through splashes, inhalation of fumes or swallowing can lead to serious health problems. Anyone exposed to turpentine should seek emergency care or contact an emergency number (such as 911) or the National Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222.
At low levels of exposure to turpentine, defined by Occupational Safety and Health Administration as 75 parts per million, people begin to experience irritation to the nose and throat when breathing. Higher concentrations, up to 175 ppm, can lead to more serious respiratory side effects, including shortness of breath, coughing, severe throat pain, choking and chest pain. People chronically exposed to low levels of turpentine in the air over a time period of at least five years might have an increased risk of developing lung cancer. If ingested, turpentine may cause death due to respiratory failure.
Irritation of the eyes develops at exposures of 175 ppm of turpentine vapors. If turpentine splashes into the eye, people might develop severe pain, redness of the membranes (conjunctiva) surrounding the eye and abnormal twitching of the eyelid. In addition, the turpentine might cause temporary corneal erosion, which results in visual problems such as blurriness or visual distortion.
A splash of turpentine to the skin causes irritation, redness and pain to develop at and around the affected area. The skin of an exposed person might take on a bluish tinge. In addition, turpentine might cause burns where it comes into contact with the skin.
If ingested, turpentine causes serious side effects throughout the digestive system. A burning sensation might develop in the throat, followed by nausea and vomiting, possibly with blood in the vomit and abdominal pain. Diarrhea, possibly bloody, might also occur.
People with any level of acute exposure to the chemical might experience blood or protein in their urine as well as painful urination. Damage to the kidneys might occur, which could lead to kidney failure, a serious health complication.
- Photo Credit varnish/nail polish image by Katarzyna Szura from Fotolia.com
How to Get Fingernail Polish Out With Turpentine
Considering how quickly it seems to disappear from fingernails, it’s amazing how “durable” nail polish is when it becomes affixed to other...
How to Use Eggs to Treat Minor Wounds
Protein rich eggs are a tasty and nutritious food, but they have healing elements as well. Eggs can be used to treat...
- How to Remove Oil Based Paint From Skin
How to Safely Dispose of Turpentine
Turpentine is a commonly used solvent or paint thinner. It's obtained naturally from trees, mainly those in the pine family. Although it...
How to Use Turpentine to Get Paint Off of Your Hands
Not all types of paint can be removed from skin with just soap and water. Turpentine is an effective paint solvent and...
Effect of Turpentine on Wood
Turpentine, a product commonly used in paint and finish stripping, is a product of trees. This often harsh chemical is derived from...
What Are the Dangers of Paint Thinner?
Paint thinner is a common household item that comes in handy during paint jobs to thin down sticky paint or to clean...
Vicks Vapor Rub Dangers
Vicks VapoRub is a topical ointment used to relieve congestion and coughs associated with colds and flu. The active ingredients are camphor,...