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ACUTE EXPOSURE INFORMATION
- Elemental selenium has a relatively low order of toxicity; selenium is an ESSENTIAL TRACE METAL, and CHRONIC DEFICIENCY can lead to fatal cardiomyopathies. Industrial workers exposed for up to 26 years had a normal death pattern. All selenium salts can produce toxicity by ingestion, inhalation, and percutaneous absorption, although specific information on the possible dermal absorption of sodium selenate was not found.
- Chronic selenium poisoning resembles chronic arsenic poisoning. Nausea, vomiting, white streaks of the nails, pallor, upper respiratory irritation, paronychiae, hair loss, skin rashes, irritability, fatigue, hyperreflexia, EKG changes, a garlic odor on the breath, and a metallic taste in the mouth may be noted with chronic selenium exposure.
- Screening laboratory values such as complete blood counts and liver and renal function tests are usually within normal limits. Liver and renal lesions have been seen in experimental animals.
- Acute poisonings with selenium metal and its salts are rare. SELENITE toxicity may include facial flushing, a lightheaded sensation, and muscle tenderness and tremors.
- Inhalation of selenium dusts may cause headache, cough, nasal discharge, upper respiratory tract irritation, epistaxis, and olfactory fatigue. Transient dyspnea has been seen.
- Severe eye irritation may be seen with selenium dust exposure.
- While chronic occupational selenium exposure has not been reported to result in disabling disease, paralysis and hemiplegia were noted in an endemic outbreak of dietary hyperselenosis in China.
- Acute ingestion of 2000 mg of sodium selenate by an adolescent caused a garlic odor of the breath, diarrhea, EKG changes indicating possible anterolateral myocardial damage, elevated liver function tests, muscle aches and pains, and irritability.
- Anemia and marked hepatic necrosis, hemorrhage, and cirrhosis were found in experimental animals fed 5 to 15 ppm of selenium chronically in the diet. These effects have not been reported in exposed humans.
- Sodium selenate releases toxic and irritating fumes of selenium and sodium oxide when heated to decomposition.
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