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Oxalic acid toxicity

Hi all I just typed in Oxalic acid in the space provided by and got many hits. Try this one for on its

OXALIC ACID. ... Ingredient CAS No Percent Hazardous 
Oxalic Acid 144-62-7 99 - 100% Yes ... - 19k

Remember, it’s the dose that makes the poison. Dosage consists of
two variables: the concentration of the material brought into the
body and the length of time over which it is brought it. A high
concentration over a short length of time results in acute toxicity,
low concentrations over long lengths of time results in chronic
toxicity with the symptoms being different for each condition. In
general, with acute toxicity one gets immediately very sick and
either recovers or dies. With chronic toxicity one gets sick (as to
how depends on the agent), remains sick for a very long time and may
never recover.

Of the two chronic toxicity, in my opinion, is the worse because the
symptoms are below the threshold of awareness. My reasoning is as
follows. If one gets food poisoning one knows in a matter of hours
that one has a real problem, and one can learn from the experience.
In contrast, the effect of smoking that additional cigarette is so
low that it cannot be sensed and therefore one cannot learn what
damage is being done.

The best way, again in my opinion, to prevent being poisoned at the
jeweller’s bench or in the foundry is knowledge and application of
industrial hygiene. Sometimes one is forced to take risks (the
chance of a bad even occurring times the cost of that bad event), and
taking such a risk when being informed is probably a good way of
mitigating that risk. Also and in general, those who are uniformed
tend to underestimate risk (I apologzie for not having a source to
back up this assertion).

The nature of the craft (in the best sense of the term) of jewellery
making can put both professional and amateur jewellers at risk. This
is because the materials used by jewellers can be potentially toxic
and because the materials can enter the body by being inhaled,
swallowed, or touched.

Given the number of threads on toxicity that occur in this forum I
am forced to conclude that chemistry, industrial hygiene and
toxicology do not form part of the formal curriculum of those
attending jewellery making school. Is this conclusion correct?

As for the rest of us, our local libraries and the “net” contain
vast amounts of these topics.


Hello David Popham, Your discussion on "…dose makes the poison,"
was very good. My years in environmental health lead me to add a few
other dimensions to the “equation” - new technology, knowledge, and
individual response/tolerance.

As lab techniques become more accurate and detection ranges are
lowered, we now realize exposures that were not detectable even a
few years ago. Carcinogenic compounds like solvents in drinking
water were not detected at parts/million two decades ago; now their
presence is revealed at parts/billion and even parts/trillion!

We’ve learned about long exposures manifesting themselves in
symptoms; then medical “detective” work showing the relationship
between the exposure and symptom. Most people don’t realize that
the US EPA has not only lowered the acceptible levels for most
compounds found in drinking water, but added many new ones based on
such studies.

Individual sensitivity varies with genetics, age, and health. Your
example of smoking being a chronic exposure illustrates all the
above… as time has revealed. That individual sensitivity is the
great unknown. None of us know our tolerance until it has been
tested, and by then it may be too late.

The bottom line: avoid unnecessary exposures to even innocuous

Judy in Kansas, where we are experiencing the most lovely Fall with
mild temperatures.

Judy M. Willingham, R.S.
Biological and Agricultural Engineering
237 Seaton Hall
Kansas State University
Manhattan KS 66506
(785) 532-2936

Indeed Dave: I have been a victim of that very circumstance, by being
partially trained (only the training to get the job done ). There
was n0 training in what a complete bombing cycle could do and they
failed to give and instructions on what to do if anything was
contaminated! their common practice was to dump the hydrocyanic down
the drain and into a gold trap, then they would pour spent acid
down the same drain… after bophal India happened my awareness of
what cyanide could do was sparked. the very next day a Vietnamese
coworker exhibited his usual selective hearing he was late in
quenching the acid, the acid reacted and went all over my bare skin,
wasn’t that an interesting way to bomb… bent over a steaming bowl
of hydrocyanic acid and having no clue what the acid would do if it
reacted, my ex boss failed to inform me of what was possible… i
had no clue what it could do to my body, 5 Years later liver
problems began to be a part of my life. Seems as though they warn
about it but no government agency seems to give a dam… After i got
fired for being a disgruntled worker (dam right I was mad when I
found out the potential life threat), after i found out the
environmental impact, i started to store the acid… of course my
boss had the acid stored right next to my bench! unreacted and
lethal! but when i tried to inform the EPA they said i was a
disgruntled worker and they said they did not respond to disgruntled
worker accusation… that was in 1985… Still to day I have nothing
to help my battle and no resource can seem to put them in their
place… as late as 95 i found a guy from Hawaii who did some
bombing in the shop poured the acid on the ground… that was the
last year i could work full time, we definitely should require all!
jewelers to have some hazmat training…At least they might not be
looking at a compromised life and a looming liver transplant! Just
another two bits worth…God Bless America… Ringman