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ACUTE EXPOSURE INFORMATION

  1. USES: Selenious acid is found in gun blueing, which changes the color of steel from silver-grey to blue-grey. It is also used in the chemical darkening and patination of copper, brass and bronze. Other uses for selenious acid are as a reagent for alkaloids, as an oxidizing agent and as an isotope for labeling radiopharmaceutical compounds.
  1. TOXICOLOGY: The toxicity of selenious acid is thought to be due to inhibition of activity of sulfhydryl-containing enzymes. In addition, it is corrosive, as the pH of several commercial gun blueing solutions containing selenious acid is 1.5. Hepatoxicity, nephrotoxicity, and discoloration of the skin and viscera have been noted in fatal ingestions.
  1. EPIDEMIOLOGY: Reports of selenious acid toxicity are fairly rare but can be fatal.
  1. WITH POISONING/EXPOSURE
    1. MILD TO MODERATE TOXICITY: Ingestion can cause hypersalivation, garlic odor breath, copious vomiting, diarrhea, restlessness, muscle spasms, hypertension and tachycardia. Inhalation of selenious acid fumes has caused bronchospasm, coughing, gagging and syncope. Tachycardia, tachypnea and mild hypotension may also occur. After acute symptoms subside, secondary symptoms may develop over the next 2 to 12 hours, including chills, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, malaise, headache, fever, cyanosis, respiratory distress, bronchospasm, leukocytosis and a chemical pneumonitis. Dermal exposure to selenious acid can cause a dermatitis and paronychia. Skin contact can cause dermal burns and systemic absorption may occur through denuded areas. Ocular exposures to selenious acid can cause conjunctivitis or corneal burns.
    1. SEVERE TOXICITY: Severe ingestions can cause hematemesis, hypotension, toxic cardiomyopathy, pulmonary edema, seizures and coma. Selenious acid is also corrosive potentially producing esophageal, pharyngeal,and GI tract burns and erosions, as well as liver and kidney injury.
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