What is Iodine?

Iodine (chemical formula: I₂), is a volatile and light sensitive substance that appears as black crystals. It has an irritating odour and a sharp and acrid taste. Iodine is soluble in water, benzene, ethanol and several other organic solvents. 

What is Iodine used for?

Iodine is essential for humans, with the body requiring a daily intake of around 140 micrograms of iodine a day, for adults. The thyroid gland is the main source of the body’s iodine, with the gland regulating growth and body temperature. 

The various uses of iodine include:

  • Photography chemicals
  • Medicines 
  • Germicides
  • Antiseptics
  • Disinfectants
  • Printing inks/dyes
  • Additive to animal feed
  • LCD displays
  • Additive to table salt
  • Reagent in analytical chemistry
Foods such as milk and dairy products, seafood, eggs and grains are rich in iodine. 
Foods such as milk and dairy products, seafood, eggs and grains are rich in iodine. 

Iodine Hazards

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

Inhalation of iodine can cause chest tightness, headache, sore throat and nasal secretions. Excessive exposures can cause asphyxiation, fainting, coughing up blood, shortness of breath and chest pain. Those with existing conditions such as chronic bronchitis, emphysema, circulatory or nervous system damage or kidney damage, may incur further disability upon inhalation.

Ingestion of iodine may be seriously damaging to the health, with animal experiments suggesting that death is possible with ingestion of less than 40g. Ingestion can also cause chemical burns in the mouth/throat/gastrointestinal tract, vomiting, stomach pain, diarrhoea and shock. 

Skin contact with iodine can produce chemical burns, with further systemic effects possible following absorption and entry into the bloodstream through open cuts and wounds. 

Eye exposure can cause chemical burns, producing pain, tears and sensitivity to light. Iodine mists and vapours can also be extremely irritating to the eye. Mild burns generally recover quickly and fully.

Iodine Safety

If inhaled, remove the patient from the contaminated area to the nearest fresh air source and lay the patient down, ensuring they are kept 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 immediate medical attention. 

If swallowed, provide a slurry of 3 tablespoons of activated charcoal in water to the patient. Although inducing vomiting may be recommended, it should be avoided if possible 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 immediate medical attention. 

If skin exposure occurs, remove all contaminated clothing and footwear and flush the affected skin and hair with running water and soap. Seek immediate medical attention.

If the chemical is exposed to the eyes, flush the eyes out immediately with fresh running water, remembering to wash under the upper and lower eyelids. Contact lenses should be removed by a skilled professional. Seek immediate medical attention.

Iodine Safety Handling

Emergency eyewash fountains and safety showers should be accessible in the immediate area of the potential exposure to the chemical. Local exhaust is also usually required to ensure adequate ventilation and to remove or dilute any air contaminants. 

The PPE recommended when handling iodine includes chemical goggles, half-full face respirators, PVC gloves, PVC aprons/protective suits, overalls and gumboots. 

Iodine can cause serious harm to yourself and those around you—ensure you are equipped with the SDS recommended PPE and always be cautious when handling chemical substances. Click here for a trial of our SDS Management Software or contact us at sa***@ch*******.net for more information about our chemicals management solutions.