Sodium bisulfite is a form of sodium meta-bisulfite that has been dissolved in water, according to Northstarchemical.com. Once the powder is dissolved in water, it is probably most known for being used as a preservative during the winemaking process as well as in the process of canning fruits and vegetables. It also is used in water treatment to remove excess chlorine. Caution is needed when adding this chemical to water or acids, for sulfur dioxide gas is released. Hazardous side effects can result if not used correctly.
One of the potential side effects of using sodium bisulfite involves severe skin irritation, as stated by Avantomaterials.com. Therefore, if you use this chemical, it is important that you make sure that none of your skin is exposed during the process, for it can result in burns to the skin; specific symptoms, according to Avantomaterials.com, include skin redness and itching as well as pain. However, should exposure occur, you need to wipe off any excess amount of this chemical from your skin immediately; next, it is recommended that you flush your skin with water for a minimum period of 15 minutes; and, contact poison control and get medical care after removing all contaminated shoes and clothing, advises Avantomaterials.com. Obviously, do not wear these items again until they have been thoroughly cleaned -- otherwise, discard the items.
As with skin exposure, sodium bisulfite can cause severe irritation to the eyes and mucous membranes with associated redness and pain, states Avantomaterials.com. For example, consequential symptoms can include the following: blindness, corneal damage, stinging, swelling and tearing. Immediate action is required because eye exposure to this chemical may result in irreversible eye damage, reports Avantomaterials.com. Therefore, as soon of possible, flush eyes with water for a minimum of 15 minutes, and occasionally move eyelids around to ensure water fully covers the entirety of the eyes. Then, contact poison control and get medical attention.
It is important when using this substance to wear a protective mask so as to reduce the risk of severe inhalation side effects. Specifically, sodium bisulfite can irritate the respiratory system initially with coughing and shortness of breath, explains Avantomaterials.com. Moreover, exposure may trigger an allergic reaction or an asthma attack in certain individuals; also, lung damage may result if large amounts of sulfur dioxide gas are produced and inhaled, states Hillbrothers.com. If, indeed, an individual inhales vapors of this chemical, get the individual to a place with fresh air; call an ambulance if the person is not breathing, and assuming safe conditions without contamination, a rescuer may begin artificial respiration, instructs Hillbrothers.com. If the individual is breathing, immediate medical attention still is essential.
Extreme caution is needed with this chemical because of its corrosive, flammable and burn potential, according to Reducing-agents.be-long.com.
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A.M. Tacon is an associate professor of health at Texas Tech University. Her research interests include psychosocial factors in cancer, complementary therapies and stress reduction in individuals with cancer. Dr. Tacon runs mindfulness-based stress reduction programs for women with breast cancer, which is based on various forms of mindfulness meditation.