Hazards of Magnesium Chloride

Written by daniel zimmermann
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Hazards of Magnesium Chloride
It is wise to exercise caution when working with chemicals. (chemical experiences image by Sergey Galushko from Fotolia.com)

Magnesium chloride is not a combustible or explosive chemical, but careless handling may cause problems ranging from minor discomforts to more serious complications, leading to trips to the doctor. It is wise to know what effect this chemical might have on various body parts and what reactions might ensue if magnesium chloride is not handled with care.

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Ingestion Hazards

While magnesium chloride is not a deadly poison, ingestion will affect the stomach and intestines. The severity of the indisposition will depend on the quantity ingested. Problems range from nausea and vomiting to more severe gastrointestinal disturbances and diarrhoea, if large quantities are swallowed, according to Hill Brothers Chemical Co. Magnesium chloride may also upset blood chemistry, especially if constipation prevents it from being excreted. If too much magnesium enters the blood stream, the amount of calcium in the blood may diminish below normal levels. Magnesium chloride ingestion may also retard the nervous system, resulting in such symptoms as a loss of reflexes, according to ClearTech and JT Baker.

Inhalation Hazards

Problems occur when air becomes contaminated with magnesium chloride dust. If inhaled, the dust may irritate the mucous membranes of the trachea. The damage is usually minimal and easily remedied by breathing fresh air. In some cases, breathing may become difficult, especially for asthma sufferers. In such cases, first aid measures should be applied immediately, including artificial respiration if breathing has stopped, and a doctor should examine the victim as soon as possible, according to ClearTech.

Hazards to Eyes

If magnesium chloride dust gets into the eye, no damaging chemical reactions will occur. The dust will irritate the eye, and the affected eye should be flushed with water. Medical assistance will not be necessary except in cases of persistent irritation. Safety goggles will protect the eyes from any contact with magnesium chloride dust, according to JT Baker.

Explosion Hazards

Magnesium chloride itself is not explosive, but it will cause furan-2-peroxycarboxylic acid to explode when the two chemicals interact, even at room temperature, according to JT Baker.

Hazards When Heated

If a fire starts in a location where magnesium chloride is kept, additional hazards ensue. When heated sufficiently to cause magnesium chloride to decompose, hydrochloric acid gas is a byproduct. If heated above 300 degrees Celsius, chlorine gas will result. Hydrochloric acid causes damage through corrosive action, especially to metals, and chlorine gas is poisonous, according to ClearTech.

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