The elemental forms of selenium are probably harmless; its compounds, however, are dangerous and their action resembles that of sulphur compounds. Selenium compounds may be absorbed in toxic quantities through the lungs, intestinal tract or damaged skin. Many selenium compounds will cause intense burns of skin and mucous membranes, and chronic skin exposure to light concentrations of dust from certain compounds may produce dermatitis and paronychia. There is some evidence that they may be teratogenic for certain species.
The sudden inhalation of large quantities of selenium fumes, selenium oxide or hydrogen selenide may produce pulmonary oedema due to local irritant effects on the alveoli; this oedema may not set in for 1-4 hours after exposure. Exposure to atmospheric hydrogen selenide concentrations of 5mg is intolerable; however, this substance occurs in only small amounts in industry (for example, due to bacterial contamination of selenium-contaminated gloves), although there have been reports of exposure to high concentrations following laboratory accidents. Skin contact with selenium oxide or selenium oxychloride may cause burns or sensitization to selenium and its compounds, especially selenium oxide. Selenium oxychloride readily destroys skin on contact, causing third degree burns, unless immediately removed with water.
The Encyclopedia of World Problems and Human Potential is a collaboration between UIA and Mankind 2000, started in 1972. It is the result of an ambitious effort to collect and present information on the problems with which humanity is confronted, as well as the challenges such problems pose to concept formation, values and development strategies. Problems included are those identified in international periodicals but especially in the documents of some 60,000 international non-profit organizations, profiled in the Yearbook of International Organizations.
The Encyclopedia includes problems which such groups choose to perceive and act upon, whether or not their existence is denied by others claiming greater expertise. Indeed such claims and counter-claims figure in many of the problem descriptions in order to reflect the often paralyzing dynamics of international debate. In the light of the interdependence demonstrated among world problems in every sector, emphasis is placed on the need for approaches which are sufficiently complex to encompass the factions, conflicts and rival worldviews that undermine collective initiative towards a promising future.
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