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Q: Need list of chemicals that can NOT be washed off skin with water. ( Answered 4 out of 5 stars,   2 Comments )
Subject: Need list of chemicals that can NOT be washed off skin with water.
Category: Science > Chemistry
Asked by: reptiles-ga
List Price: $50.00
Posted: 30 Mar 2004 10:14 PST
Expires: 29 Apr 2004 11:14 PDT
Question ID: 322451

I'm looking for some chemical/occupational hazard information to help
update an industral first-aid protocol.

Generally when someone is contaminated with chemicals, the first thing
to do is wash it off with water.  But there are some substances that
can cause burns, explosions, or strong acids when contacted with

For example, Phosphorous pentoxide bursts into flames upon contact
with water. You would want to brush that off your skin, not shower!

What I need is a list of industral chemicals/substance that should
NEVER be washed off  with water.  The more chemicals the better. I'd
like it as  comprehensive as possible.

Please include info on sources of exposure (e.g. what industry uses
certain compounds and for what purpose.)

Thank you very much for your assistance. I'll be off line till
Thursday but will check back then.

Request for Question Clarification by pafalafa-ga on 30 Mar 2004 12:35 PST

That last bit of information you requested:

>>Please include info on sources of exposure (e.g. what industry uses
certain compounds and for what purpose<<

actually complicates things quite a lot.  The hazard information on
which chemicals cannot come in contact with water might be available,
and quite possible can be compiled for you, for the fee you have

However, the actual industrial uses of the chemicals is an entirely
separate research project, and my guess is that it would require
considerably more effort than your list price can justify.

You might want to consider scaling this question back to just the
first part regarding non-contact with water.  If usage information is
essential, consider asking for it as a separate question.

Just a suggestion....


Request for Question Clarification by bobbie7-ga on 30 Mar 2004 13:02 PST
Dear Reptiles,

Water Reactive Chemicals are chemicals that react violently with
water. When mixed with water they may generate toxic gases, vapors, or
chemicals in a quantity sufficient to present a danger to human health
or the environment. They may also form potentially explosive mixtures
with water.

I have been working on your question I have located an extensive list
of approximately 90 water reactive chemicals. This list includes the
toxic vapor that is produced when the material comes in contact with

The actual industrial uses of the chemicals are proving difficult to
locate, and I have only found the applications for ten of the
chemicals in approximately one hour.

Would you absolutely require the industrial uses for each chemical or 
would the list of water reactive chemicals that I can provide be an
adequate answer to your question?


Clarification of Question by reptiles-ga on 01 Apr 2004 12:57 PST
Yes, I am most interested in acute gross contamination.   I would
accept a good list of compounds as an answer and accept little/limited
industral use information.  Thank you.

Request for Question Clarification by pafalafa-ga on 01 Apr 2004 19:11 PST

Here is a sizable list of chemicals that are highly reactive and
highly toxic when they come in contact with water:

Clicking on the "guide number" for each chemical will take you to
additional information for that substance.

Is this the sort of thing you're looking for?

If not, can you clarify for us a bit what additional information you would need.


Clarification of Question by reptiles-ga on 02 Apr 2004 18:21 PST
yes, chemicals that produce toxic gas when contacted with water are
among those I need. Also interested in chemicals that produce
exothermic reactions or strong acids when wet.

Request for Question Clarification by pafalafa-ga on 04 Apr 2004 19:52 PDT
I found a list of 559 water-reactive chemicals in the CAMEO --
Computer-Aided Managment of Emergency Operations -- databases
maintained by EPA and NOAA.  The list is not reproducible.

However, I could give you instructions for downloading the CAMEO
database and recreating the list of 559 chemicals, if that would be a
satisfactory answer to your question.

An individual CAMEO record looks like this:



Ignites in moist air.  Ignites in air with or without oxygen
enrichment  [Bretherick 1979 p. 221].      Explosively hydrolyzed by
water (forms hydrogen gas) [Ruff J.K. Inorg. Synth 1967, 9, 34].

ALUMINUM HYDRIDE is a powerful reducing agent.  May react violently
with oxidizers.  Prolonged exposure to heat may cause spontaneous
decomposition.   Can also decompose spontaneously at ambient
temperature with explosive violence. Occasionally, explosions have
occurred when it was stored in ether. The explosions have been blamed
on the presence of carbon dioxide impurity in the ether [J. Amer.
Chem. Soc. 70:877 1948]. Can emit toxic fumes on contact with acid or
fumes from an acid. [Lewis]. At elevated temperatures, the hydride
reduces carbon dioxide or sodium hydrogen carbonate to methane and
ethane. These gases are the explosive products formed when CO2
extinguishers have been used during hydride fires. The 1:1 complexes
of the hydride (as a complex with ether or dimethylamine) and various
tetrazole derivatives are explosive. Tetrazoles include, 2-methyl,
2-ethyl, 5-ethyl, 2-methyl-5-vinyl, 5-amino-2-ethyl, etc., [US Pat. 3
396 170, 1968].

Metal Hydrides, Alkyls and Aryls  (REACTIVITY, 2003)


Please be aware, however, that -- while it is possible to reproduce
individual chemicals records (as I did, above) -- it does not appear
to be possible to reproduce (i.e. copy and print) a long list of

Let me know if I should post the information about CAMEO as an answer
to your question.


Request for Question Clarification by pafalafa-ga on 09 Apr 2004 09:05 PDT
Hello again, reptiles-ga,

I've been out of circulation for a week or so, and I just wanted to
check in with you. If you would like the CAMEO information (as
described above) as an answer to your question, please let me know by
posting a comment to that effect.



Clarification of Question by reptiles-ga on 09 Apr 2004 21:16 PDT
Yes, please describe process for CAMEO.
Subject: Re: Need list of chemicals that can NOT be washed off skin with water.
Answered By: pafalafa-ga on 10 Apr 2004 09:34 PDT
Rated:4 out of 5 stars
Hello again Mark,

Thanks for your interest in CAMEO.

CAMEO stands for the Computer-Aided Management of Emergency
Operations, a software program designed by federal government agencies
to assist emergency responders in dealing with chemical emergencies. 
As such, CAMEO contains a wealth of information on the properties of
hazardous chemicals.

Since firefighters ordinarily use water to douse a fire, some of the
key information in CAMEO deals with water-reactive chemicals - those
substances that react violently with water, and hence, should be
treated with extreme caution in the presence of water.

Unfortunately, though, the CAMEO database is designed with some
built-in limitations on how readily information can be downloaded or
printed out (I'm not sure why this is, but it may be due to licensing
restrictions imposed by private-sector suppliers of information to the
CAMEO system).  Hence, I cannot provide you here the full list of
water-reactive chemicals, even though I can see it clearly on my
computer screen.  However, I can certainly provide you instructions
for generating the list for yourself.

General information on CAMEO can be found at the system's main website
maintained by the US Environmental Protection Agency:

and the general description of the CAMEO system is:


CAMEO is a system of software applications used widely to plan for and
respond to chemical emergencies. It is one of the tools developed by
EPA?s Chemical Emergency Preparedness and Prevention Office (CEPPO)
and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Office of
Response and Restoration (NOAA), to assist front-line chemical
emergency planners and responders. They can use CAMEO to access,
store, and evaluate information critical for developing emergency
plans. In addition, CAMEO supports regulatory compliance by helping
users meet the chemical inventory reporting requirements of the
Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA, also known
as SARA Title III). CAMEO also can be used with a separate software
application called LandView  to display EPA environmental databases
and demographic/economic information to support analysis of
environmental justice issues.

The CAMEO system integrates a chemical database and a method to manage
the data, an air dispersion model, and a mapping capability. All
modules work interactively to share and display critical information
in a timely fashion. The CAMEO system is available in Macintosh and
Windows formats.


As you can see, CAMEO includes a good deal of capabilities (plume
modeling, mapping, etc) that are probably not relevant to your needs. 
However, the main chemicals database -- with the reactivity
information included -- is right on target.

The actual download for CAMEO is here:

Select the appropriate file for your system -- the Windows version is
a 34.8 megabyte download.

Once downloaded, start the system from your "Programs" list, and
you'll open up to the main CAMEO page with several options.

Click on the "Search for a Chemical" option, and you'll open up a new
window for the "CAMEO Basic Search" page.  On the pull-down menu
entitled "Reactive Hazards" select "Water Reactive".  Leave the rest
of the search options blank, and select "Search".

This should open up a list of 559 chemicals that are water-reactive.

By clicking on a chemical name, you'll be taken to (yet another) page
with deatiled information about the chemical.  Note two things here. 
One, is that one of the tabs on the page is labelled "Reactivity", and
will provide you detailed information about reaction events,
by-products, etc. for the listed chemicals.  Secondly, at the top,
right-hand side of the page is a forward-facing arrow...pressing this
will advance you to the next chemical on the list.

Finally, at the top left of the page is a button labelled "List" that
will return you to the full list of 559 chemicals.

I hope this information fully meets your needs.  But if you have any
questions about CAMEO, please let me know before rating this question.
 Just post a Request for Clarification, and I'll be happy to assist
you further.

All the best.


search strategy:  I knew about CAMEO, and conducted a Google search on
[CAMEO EPA ] in order to locate the homepage for this database.

Clarification of Answer by pafalafa-ga on 10 Apr 2004 09:35 PDT
Oops...I called you Mark, by mistake.  My apologies, reptiles-ga.
reptiles-ga rated this answer:4 out of 5 stars
Pretty good response to a difficult question. Thanks.

Subject: Re: Need list of chemicals that can NOT be washed off skin with water.
From: marklangenkamp-ga on 30 Mar 2004 20:54 PST
Water reactivity is a seperate issue from water soluability,
resistance, or dispersion.  For example, any petroleum product will
resist the effects of water (mainly because they do not mix well), but
they will not likely react violently in contact with water.

The question has other difficulties in the area of "persistance". 
With enough time, water will remove any chemical from the "surface" of
the skin.  At the very least, a layer of skin cells will eventually be
shed resulting in any gross contamination coming off.

Are you concerned with only with the surface of the skin or does
leaching of the skin by the chemicals concern you as well.  I'm sure
that you have spilled gasoline on your hands, washed them a few times,
and still smelled the gasoline as it emitted from the pores of your
skin.  The surface has been washed completely, but leaching has

My guess is that you are concerned with gross contamination--that
which resides "UPON" the surface of the skin.  Am I correct?
Subject: Re: Need list of chemicals that can NOT be washed off skin with water.
From: reptiles-ga on 01 Apr 2004 12:56 PST
Yes, I am most interested in acute gross contamination.   I would
accept a good list of compounds as an answer and accept little/limited
industral use information.  Thank you.

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