The Column Model – Acute Health Hazards (Part 2)

In my last post I introduced the column model of the German TRGS 600 [1] as a tool for substitution testing. In this and the upcoming posts, I would like to go more into detail about the individual columns. Today I will deal with column 2a of the column model, which is about acute health hazards.

Acute health hazards (2a)

As the name implies, acute health hazards are characterised by the fact that damage already occurs after a single exposure (column 2a in the model). They therefore differ from hazardous substances with chronic health hazards. There a hazard only arises after repeated exposure (column 2b in the model). Acute hazards include, for example, acute toxicity, but also corrosive or irritant substances. The H and EUH statements can be used to quickly identify whether a substance poses an acute hazard. In the following sections, I would like to discuss some relevant properties on the basis of which the classification is made in the column model. The list of all points can be found in the TRGS 600.

Very high and high hazard

It is obvious that acutely toxic substances, category 1 or 2, with H statements 300, 310 and 330 (Fatal if swallowed / in contact with skin/ if inhaled) pose a very high acute hazard. But this also applies to substances and mixtures that can form very toxic gases when they come into contact with acid. This can be seen in the EUH phrase EUH032.

A classification in “high” can already be found in many more H and EUH statements. Here, too, acute toxicity, category 3, with H301, H311 and H331 (Toxic if swallowed / in contact with skin / if inhaled) is relevant. Other hazard categories such as: A substance that damages organs (H370) or a substance that corrodes the skin (H314: Causes severe skin burns and eye damage.) are classified as high hazards.

Medium and low hazard

A medium hazard is posed, for example, by substances classified in Acute Toxicity, Category 4. The respective H statements are 302, 312 and 332 (Harmful if swallowed / in contact with skin / if inhaled). But also, substances that may cause damage to organs (H371), damage to the eyes (H318) or have a corrosive effect on the respiratory tract (EUH071), are classified here.

Substances that are “only” skin irritant (H315), eye irritant (H319) or aspiration toxic (H304) are classified as low. This also includes substances that are harmful to the skin (EUH066) or substances that cause drowsiness or dizziness (H336).

Negligible hazard

If a substance is known to be harmless, this is considered a negligible hazard in terms of acute health hazards. This applies, for example, to water or sugar.

Conclusion

As you can see, TRGS 600 [1] tells you exactly which H statements correspond to which severity. So you can determine how high the acute health hazard is by classifying your hazardous substance. If you have a hazardous substance with a very high health hazard, e.g. due to H statement 300 (Fatal if swallowed), it is a good idea to substitute it with a hazardous substance that has only a medium risk, e.g. due to skin burning (H314). In addition to acute health hazards, there are also hazardous substances that are only dangerous after repeated exposure. This will be the topic of my next blog post.

[1]        Technical rules for hazardous substances, TRGS 600, Version 29.10.2020, BAuA

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