The Effects of Rubber Cement


Rubber cement is a household glue used for arts-and-craft projects at home and in school. Poisonous chemicals in rubber cement include acetone, heptane, isopropyl, paradichlorobenzene and trichloroethane, according to MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia. Prolonged exposure to these chemicals causes rubber cement poisoning to the exterior and interior of the body.

Skin and Eyes

Contact with rubber cement causes skin irritation if not removed immediately, as well as burning in the eyes and vision loss. For minor skin or eye irritations, you do not need to call emergency services or the National Poison Control Center. Instead, run skin under water and flush eyes for about 15 minutes, according to MedlinePlus.

Intestines, Heart and Blood

Rubber cement can damage the internal organs and systems, including the intestinal tract and the heart. Intestinal effects include abdominal discomfort, nausea and vomiting. MedlinePlus says the chemicals in the glue change acid levels in the blood and alter blood pressure. The Narcotic Educational Foundation of America says they cause irregular heartbeats and pulse rates. "Huffing" -- intentionally breathing chemicals in glue and solvents to get high -- can lead to heart failure and death.

Respiratory Damage

Rubber cement causes chemical burns to the organs in the respiratory tract, including the lips and throat. Inhaling the chemicals in rubber cement eventually leads to throat swelling and labored breathing. The Narcotic Educational Foundation of America warns that abusing glue or chemicals leads to extensive lung damage, such as shortness of breath and problems in the upper respiratory tract.

Neurological Damage

Continued inhalation of rubber cement damages the nervous system. Symptoms of poisoning include dizziness, headaches, unconsciousness, convulsions and walking imbalances, according to MedlinePlus. The National Educational Foundation of America says that abusing rubber cement leads to brain damage, speech problems, coordination issues and mental disorders.

Poison Prevention and At-Home Care

Use rubber cement only in a well-ventilated room, to limit the chances of external or internal damage. Open windows and doors or use an oscillating fan. If you or your children accidentally swallow rubber cement, drink milk or water unless symptoms include vomiting, convulsions and decreased alertness, says MedlinePlus. Take in deep breaths of fresh air if you begin feeling lightheaded.

Emergency Treatment

Serious conditions require emergency care to prevent serious damage. Before you call 911, make sure to have the patient's name, vital statistics and symptoms; name of product; and time it was consumed. Emergency treatment includes checking the throat and lungs for damage, installing a breathing tube, providing oxygen and giving intravenous fluids. Physicians prescribe drug treatment if inhalants have been abused.

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