Adrenaline (chemical formula: C₉H₁₃NO₃), also known as epinephrine, appears as a white to creamy white powder or granule. It is odourless and slightly bitter with a numbing effect. Adrenaline does not mix well with water and darkens upon exposure to air and light. Adrenaline is a hormone produced by the body’s adrenal glands, but also synthesised for medical use.
Adrenaline is used to treat several medical issues including; asthma, cardiac arrest and anaphylaxis. Adrenaline can restart a person’s heart after it has stopped beating in the event of a heart attack, for example.
Using adrenaline to treat anaphylaxis (a severe and life threatening allergic reaction) is widely known fact, with ‘epipens’ becoming commonplace in schools as the prevalence of allergies in children is on the rise. An anaphylactic attack can occur within seconds of the exposure to an allergen (peanuts are a common one), and can constrict the airways until breathing is impossible. Adrenaline must be administered immediately if a severe allergic reaction is occurring.
The routes of exposure for adrenaline include; inhalation, ingestion and skin and eye contact.
Inhalation of adrenaline may produce irritation and inflammation to the respiratory tract. Those with existing conditions such as chronic bronchitis or emphysema, may incur further damage if inhaled. Symptoms of inhalation may include; dizziness, skin rashes, anxiety, restlessness, tremor, insomnia, confusion, weakness, nausea, headaches, irritability and vomiting.
Symptoms of overdose may include; increase in blood pressure, increase in body temperature, heart problems, decreased blood flow, seizures, psychosis, cerebral haemorrhage,
Ingestion of adrenaline may be lethal. Animal experiments indicate that ingestion of less than 40 grams may be fatal.
Skin contact with the chemical can cause inflammation and irritation, often characterised by redness and swelling that can progress to blistering, scaling and thickening of the skin. The chemical may also accentuate any pre-existing skin conditions. Entry into the bloodstream through open cuts or wounds may also produce other harmful effects.
Eye exposure can cause irritation and inflammation characterised by temporary redness, temporary vision impairment and other transient eye damage.
If inhaled, remove the patient from the contaminated area to the nearest fresh air source. Lay the patient down and keep them warm and rested. If the patient is not breathing and you are qualified to do so, perform CPR, preferably with a bag-valve mask device. Transport to hospital without delay.
If swallowed, provide a mixture of at least 3 tablespoons of activated charcoal in a glass of water to the patient. Inducing vomiting may be recommended, but it is generally not advised due to the risk of aspiration. If vomiting is induced, lean the patient forward or place them on their left side to avoid aspiration. Seek medical attention without delay.
If skin exposure occurs, quickly wipe off the chemical from the skin with a clean, dry cloth. Remove all contaminated clothing and footwear and flush the affected area with running water. Transport to hospital.
If the chemical is exposed to the eyes, flush the eyes out immediately with fresh running water, remembering to wash under the eyelids. Removal of contact lenses should only be done by a skilled individual. Transport to hospital without delay.
Emergency eyewash fountains and safety showers should be accessible in the immediate area of the potential exposure to the chemical and there should always be adequate ventilation to remove or dilute any air contaminants (install local exhaust if necessary).
The PPE recommended when handling adrenaline includes; chemical protective goggles with full seal, shielded gas masks, rubber or PVC gloves, lab coats, nylon coveralls, safety shoes and head coverings.
For more information on the safe handling of adrenaline, refer to your SDS. Click here for a trial of our SDS Management Software or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information about our chemicals management solutions.
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