Gypsum Dangers

Gypsum
Gypsum (Image: white rock texture image by javarman from Fotolia.com)

Gypsum is a mineral used in many different capacities. You're most likely to run across gypsum in the gardening section of your hardware store. Gypsum helps to loosen up heavy clay soils, helping plants to take root and grow. Exposure to gypsum can also occur when working with drywall, especially while cutting it. While usually safe, gypsum can pose a few dangers. Avoid these hazards by knowing some basic gypsum safety.

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Eye Exposure

Gypsum can get into the eyes through direct contact. When the foreign substance gets into the eye, the eye becomes very irritated. This can involve pain, redness, burning and other common symptoms of eye irritation. The dusty substance needs to come out of the eye for relief.

Refrain from rubbing the eye, as this can exacerbate the problem. Let the eye naturally tear up for a few minutes. This is usually enough to flush out the gypsum. If gypsum is still stuck to the eye, flush it out manually with some slow-flowing lukewarm water while holding the eye open. If the gypsum remains stuck to the eye, don't try to remove it by touching the eye. Seek medical attention if gypsum remains in the eye or if irritation continues.

Inhalation

Because of gypsum's dusty consistency, inhalation can occur. Being in an area with high concentrations of gypsum in the air can be dangerous. If using gypsum indoors, take measures to avoid inhaling the mineral, such as using a mask or moving to a more spacious area. If gardening outdoors, inhalation of gypsum is very unlikely but still a possibility.

If you inhale gypsum, avoid further exposure by leaving the area and getting some fresh air. If anyone else is in the area, they should remove the source of the contamination and also move to fresh air to avoid exposure. Seek medical advice in case any treatment is required.

Skin Exposure

Most people do not experience problems when gypsum comes into contact with their skin. Sometimes, though, gypsum can cause skin irritation. This usually only occurs with prolonged or repeated skin contact. Skin irritation may appear in the form of redness, dryness or discomfort.

If skin irritation does occur when in contact with gypsum, flush the affected area with slow-flowing, lukewarm water. This removes the gypsum causing the irritation and should relieve the symptoms. If irritation persists, seek medical attention.

Skin irritation from gypsum can be avoided by making a barrier between the skin and the gypsum. Long sleeves and gloves prevent your hands and arms from coming into contact with gypsum while you work with it.

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