Home Podcasts THMG004 – Toxics, Part II

THMG004 – Toxics, Part II


In this episode, we discuss the hazards of toxics and what they mean to you as a hazmat technician. Episode #3 covers the first part of this topic.

Complete Show Notes

5:35 Teratogens

  • Teratogens are passed along to children – affect sperm, eggs, and fetal tissue
  • Teratogens are particularly damaging to women and usually cause birth defects

7:30 Mutagens

  • Mutagens produce genetic material changes in the parent’s cells
  • Mutagens defined as physical or chemical agents that change the genetic material (usually DNA) of an organism – increases the frequency of mutations above the natural background level
  • Exposure to mutagens (like radiation) can lead to cancer

8:45 Neurotoxins

13:40 Carcinogens

  • Multiply continuously and become malignant
  • Similar to mutagens because chemicals come into the body and affect cell replication
  • 60 chemicals are known carcinogens, and many more are thought to be carcinogens
  • Bladder cancer is common in firefighters due to carcinogen exposure – constantly wash your gear to avoid this problem
  • Carcinogens absorb readily through the skin

16:40 Sensitizers

  • Anything that falls under the umbrella of sensitizers is a toxic
  • Examples include bee stings, peanut reactions, and latex gloves
  • The body is caught off guard and doesn’t know how to produce antibodies to confront sensitizers

17:55 Toxics and Corrosives

  • Corrosives are basically acids versus basics
  • Corrosives are the most common calls for New York City hazmat teams – petroleums are the most prevalent, followed by corrosives and acids
  • Mixing acids and bases (especially in strong quantities) creates an exothermic, heat-generating reaction
  • Hazmat technicians usually separate Level A’s just for hydrochloric acid because it can be very dangerous
  • When combined with metal, nitric acid (a strong oxidizer) creates dangerous levels of nitrogen gas
  • Oxidizers don’t play well with organics, so it’s important to create a game plan before arriving on a scene

24:00 Listener Question

  • Question: What is the correlation between counts per minute and REM (Roetgen Equivalent in Man)?
  • Answer: Counts per minute is for site survey, and REM is for decontamination.
  • Gun analogy – the radioactive isotope is the gun and radiation is the bullet
  • Counts per minute is similar to the number of shots being fired by a gun
  • Counts per minute is the activity and REM is how that activity damages your body
  • REM is more important than counts per minute because it measures the damage to your body (presence)

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