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Could Dry Erase Markers Be Blinding Your Children?

By Expert Author: Mark Wright


The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety site publishes these cautions about Toluene and Xylene, which is also called Methylbenzene or Toluol.

The WHMIS classification is "very toxic". Toluene could cause your death if you swallow it. It can harm unborn babies if the mother of the unborn child inhales toxic toluene fumes.

If you inhale it in a closed-in area such as a lecture theater, your throat may start hurting, and it can damage your nervous system too. You may become unconscious from severe exposure, but if you still have your wits about you, you can start suspecting the toluene fumes that you have breathed from your white board markers when you start noticing the following problems.
* Dizziness
* Headache
* Drowsiness
* Confusion
* Nausea

Contact with your eyes or skin can cause damage similar to inhaling it, because it soaks through the skin. If you suck it from markers for kids for instance and some gets into your lungs it can cause enoug damage to your lungs and kill you.

If there is lots of noise where you work (such as a classroom) and you inhale toluene fumes, it can encourage industrial deafness.

First Aid for Toluene or Xylene

Prevent fire by switching off all things that could start a fire. In a cold, dry room you could always get a static spark, but that is unavoidable.

If the fumes have been breathed, rush the victim to fresh air (for example evacuate the lecture theater if you smell the dry erase solvent). If anyone has any symptoms, call a poisons centre immediately.

If you get it on your skin (fortunately you can tell it's on your skin if it's the solvent for your white-board markers because of the pigmentation of the marks) then wash gently (you don't want to break blisters) and thoroughly with a soap that is gentle and non-abrasive, in just-warm water, and hold under a flowing tap that is just warm for fifteen minutes or more.

If you get it in your eyes, flush them under a lukewarm gently-flowing tap for five minutes while holding the eyelids open with your fingers. If the eyes are still sore, contact a doctor immediately.

If vomiting occurs, make the victim lean forward to try and prevent breathing it back into the lungs - which could cause fatal lung damage.


This chemical can also be disguised as Dimethylbenzene, Methyltoluene or Xylol

The WHMIS says it is "very toxic".

Health dangers are very like those of Toluene, so I won't describe them here, but the chances of starting a fire appear to be much worse. Xylene vapour in the air can even be sparked off by static electricity, and cause an explosion.

Water Health Hazards as a Solvent

They say that if you drink several gallons of water each and every day you can get "water intoxication". I didn't know that you could drink so much water!

Bigger threats are the fluoride and chlorine in water that you drink, and even more problematic are the DBP (Disinfectant By Products) resulting from killing bacteria in water that you drink. DBPs can be 1000 times as toxic as the fluoride in water that you drink.

However, white board markers using water as a solvent use quantities of water that would not be dangerous to drink, and don't give off toxic fumes. Water vapour is not a fire hazard, and only very young children claim that water damages their skin. And some makes of water-soluble inks in markers for children can be washed from clothing in water without even using detergent.

Beware: You may find markers that say "Toluene Free" or "No Toluene" and they use Xylene instead as the solvent.

The main drawback of water-based markers is that your writing takes a little longer to dry, but that means that "new" markers that you buy are less likely to have evapourated in the warehouse before you buy them.

See more details at http://WrightMarkers.com

My name is Mark Wright, and I hate employing tools that are unsafe to use the right way or fail to operate as they should. Click to discover more about improved whiteboard markers that do work properly and are safe.

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