What is Diazepam?

Diazepam (chemical formula:C16H13ClN2O), is a drug part of the benzodiazepine family. This class of psychoactive drug is a depressant, which means it lowers brain activity in the users. Diazepam appears as a white or yellow crystalline powder with bitter after-taste. It does not mix well with water.

What is Diazepam used for?

As a benzodiazepine, diazepam is used to treat a range of conditions including; anxiety, agitation, seizures, insomnia and panic attacks. Diazepam results in patients feeling; sedated, less anxious and their muscles relaxed. In cases of insomnia, short-acting benzodiazepines are preferred with longer-acting benzodiazepines recommended for the treatment of anxiety. 

Though rare, suicidal thoughts can be a side effect of taking the medication
Though rare, suicidal thoughts can be a side effect of taking the medication

Diazepam Hazards

The routes of exposure for diazepam include inhalation, ingestion and skin and eye contact. 

Inhalation of diazepam is not thought to produce respiratory irritation, however people with already compromised respiratory function (conditions such as emphysema or chronic bronchitis), may suffer further disability upon inhalation. Those with prior circulatory, nervous system or kidney damage should also take extra precautions when handling the chemical. 

Ingestion of high concentrations of diazepam can lead to overdose and fatality. Consuming alcohol with diazepam can increase the effects of the drug. The most common symptoms of the drug include; drowsiness, lightheadedness and loss of muscle coordination. Other symptoms may include; hypotension, respiratory depression, nausea, blurred/double vision, speech difficulty, skin rashes, constipation, incontinence, depression and tremors to name a few.  

Diazepam is not thought to be a skin irritant, but abrasive damage can result from prolonged exposure. Systemic effects can result following entry into the bloodstream, so it is important that the skin is inspected for open cuts or wounds prior to handling the chemical. 

Direct eye exposure to the chemical may cause transient discomfort characterised by tearing and redness. Slight abrasive damage may also result. 

Diazepam Safety

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. Seek medical attention without delay. 

If swallowed, give the patient a slurry of at least 3 tablespoons of activated charcoal in a glass of water. Although inducing vomiting may be recommended, it is normally not recommended due to the risk of aspiration. If vomiting is induced, ensure the patient is leaned forward or placed on their left side to prevent aspiration. Seek medical attention without delay. 

In the event of skin exposure, remove all contaminated clothing, footwear and accessories and flush the affected area with plenty of soap and running water. Seek medical attention in the event of irritation.

If exposed to the eyes, flush the eyes out immediately with fresh running water for at least 15 minutes, remembering to wash under the eyelids. Removal of contact lenses should only be done by a skilled individual. Seek medical attention without delay.

Diazepam Safety Handling

Emergency eyewash fountains 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 diazepam includes, chemical protective goggles with full seal, shielded gas masks, PVC/rubber gloves, protective shoe covers, head coverings and vinyl suits in cases of emergency. 

Diazepam can lead to harmful health effects when the proper precautions are not taken. Always refer to the SDS to ensure you are fully aware of the hazards before you begin handling the chemical. Click here for a trial of our SDS Management Software or contact us at sales@chemwatch.net for more information about our chemicals management solutions. 

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