Selenium poisoning

Selenium damage to tissues
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.
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