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topic 10517

Zinc Sterate Exposure


To all at Finishing Industry,

Recently I was exposed to 100% Zinc Sterate Compound for an hour and a half. I was in close proximity to 3000 lbs. in a closed environment. I experienced a variety of symptoms ranging from disorientation to severe headache. I could taste the zinc and my extremities became weak and heavy, followed by nausea and fever. I would like to know what residual effects I may have and what are the dangers related to this type of exposure. I have been unsuccessful in my research of this product and there is no classification for this compound in the hazardous material guide.

Any information that you can offer will be greatly appreciated as I am concerned about long term affects.

Thank you, I will be looking forward to your reply.

Laurence Sheffield
- Cleveland, Ohio


Hi, Laurence. What did the doctor say except to chew you out for remaining in an environment that may have been causing you such symptoms?

The results of his examination of you will probably go much further toward predicting future problems then any totally hypothetical conjectures based on vapor pressures, assumed temperatures, air velocity rates, turnovers per hour, etc. But there is a small amount of info available about zinc fume fever here on letter 4673.

Two more notes: chemical paranoia is well known to induce 'soft symptoms'. For example, when a girl fainted in a high school assembly where the kids had been programmed to fear 'fumes', 18 of them had to be hospitalized for their symptoms of exposure, although it turned out there were absolutely no fumes at all (see our editorial archives for specifics). I'm not saying you didn't suffer real symptoms, I'm just saying it's hard to tell from your recounting of them.

Finally, if you are considering suing somebody, your lawyer is going to chew you out worse for posting this than the doctor did :-)

Good luck.

Ted Mooney, Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Pine Beach, New Jersey

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