Thursday, June 21, 2012

Dangerous Toxins Found in Classic Cars -- a guest post from Brian Turner

Hi folks -- Brian asked me to post this on my blog. The key to any discussion of toxicology is amount of exposure to the material in question and also time of exposure. Many substances are poisonous, but they become a poison to your body when thresholds are exceeded.
Dangerous Toxins Found in Classic Cars
Whether a professional mechanic or simply an enthusiast, there is no greater pleasure than restoring a classic car to its former glory. Although car restoration is a great career or hobby, it does come with several health risks that many people are completely unaware of. Many old cars were built with materials that are now known to be hazardous, such as lead and asbestos, which can cause such health issues as nerve disorders and mesothelioma. Though there are numerous problems that can arise from reviving an old car, one must plan ahead and take precautions. There are also many ways mechanics can prevent these problems, such as wearing protective clothing, masks and goggles, working in a well-ventilated area, and thoroughly cleaning your shop or garage after you have finished working on the car. One of the most hazardous materials on classic cars is paint. Much of the paint used on older cars contain such materials as lead chromate, cadmium, and lead. Lead chromate is a chemical compound that was once used to create a shocking yellow hue. Mild exposure can cause symptoms like a sore throat and coughing, muscle weakness and dizziness, while chronic exposure can lead to cancer, kidney damage, coma, and death. Cadmium can often be found in red paints, and is easily absorbed by the lungs. Regular exposure to this toxic material can result in damage to the lungs, kidneys, liver, and even bones. While lead can be found in paint, it is also present in batteries, radiators, wiring, and traces of old gasoline. If swallowed, inhaled, or even touched for an extended period, this chemical can cause such issues as increased blood pressure, memory loss, nerve disorders, seizures, and death. Though paint can be a major issue, the materials found inside many classic cars can be just as hazardous. For instance, dashboards, seat belts, and seats may contain a chemical known as bromine, while asbestos can be found in brake pads, and sometimes in clutches. Excessive exposure to bromine can lead to kidney damage, as well as memory and lung issues. Asbestos exposure can be especially problematic, sometimes leading to chronic lung inflammation and cancer, eye irritation, and skin growths. Although chemically related complications are the most common issue when it comes to classic car restoration, there are also complications that can arise from natural substances. For instance, when repairing a car that has been left out in the elements, you will often be exposed to the fungi, mold, and bacteria that can grow on seat upholstery. If the car has been left out in wet weather, you may also come in contact with rust, which can lead to tetanus if you should cut yourself on a sharp edge.

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