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Chronic Hazard

Last updated: May 12, 2017

What Does Chronic Hazard Mean?

A chronic hazard is one that can have a cumulative, long-term impact on the health of workers.

Often, the effects of these hazards are not immediately obvious and may only become evident as serious health complications develop over time. As a result of this, people who are affected by chronic hazards may continue to expose themselves to it.

Asbestos is one example of a chronic hazard. Inhaling a small quantity of asbestos fibers can go unnoticed and may only have a minor impact on a person's health. Repeated exposure over time, however, can result in lung cancer, asbestosis, or other respiratory illnesses.

Safeopedia Explains Chronic Hazard

The health effects caused by chronic hazards are often irreversible and may have far-reaching and deadly effects. The symptoms do not usually subside after exposure stops.

There are several categories of chronic hazards, including:

  • Mutagens: substances capable of altering the genetic material of a living cell, with effects that can be transmitted to offspring
  • Carcinogens: materials that cause cancer or increase its incidence in those exposed to it
  • Reproductive toxins: materials that can cause adverse effects on sexual function and fertility, or adverse effects on the development of offspring
  • Specific target organ toxins: substances that have a specific, non-lethal effect on a target organ

Chronic hazards come in many forms, from toxic chemicals and harmful fumes to loud noises, dusts, and particulate matter.

Some of their effects can include:

  • Respiratory illnesses from the inhalation of harmful dusts, smoke, or fumes
  • Loss of hearing due to sustained, high-decibel noise levels without appropriate hearing protection
  • Toxicity from exposure to toxins without adequate personal protective equipment

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