Toxic materials can find their way into the body through various entry routes. Response to the toxic materials in the body varies depending on the route by which they find their entry. It is therefore crucial to understand which routes of entry certain toxic materials can use to harm a person. This helps in giving first aid before taking the casualty to the hospital. These primary routes of entry include; inhalation, absorption and ingestion (CCOHS, 2013).
Inhalation involves breathing in the material into the human body. Compounds that can enter into the body through this process are those that are in gaseous state. Oxygen moves to the lungs and enters into the arteries and joins the body’s circulating system. The red blood cells into the lungs carry oxygen before circulating in to the rest of the body. The toxic materials also follow the same route as oxygen reaching the blood cells where they are distributed in the rest of the body causing toxicity. Inhalation as a route of entry is dangerous since a short time exposure with the toxic agent can have both acute and chronic effects. Most cases of inhalation of toxic materials are found in factories especially during evaporation processes. Vapors and gases from organic solvents are very light and contaminate the air very quickly (CCOHS, 2013).
This refers to the movement of substances such as solutes or liquids through a cell membrane by means of osmosis or diffusion. In the human body, absorption of toxic materials takes place through the skin causing irritation and sensitization leading to poisoning. The skin has two layers; epidermis and the dermis. The epidermis is the outer layer which acts as a barrier against entry of materials through its tightly packed cells. Though it can resist some materials such as water from gaining entry in the body, it is not strong enough in resisting entry of some organic and inorganic compounds into the body. Such chemicals on prolonged contact with the skin can penetrate through the dermis into the blood stream. Other chemical compounds when in contact with the skin can cause corrosion and the victim develops burns on the skin paving the way for other chemicals or infections inside the body (CCOHS, 2013). Absorption process offers a channel for the entry of toxic compounds that are in liquid form or solutes, which can dissolve easily.
Ingestion refers to the process of taking or consuming something into the body. Ingestion is the entry route for compounds with the greatest exposure. This is because the process provides channels for entry of compounds in all their states; solid, liquid and gaseous. Food materials get contaminated through improper handling or exposure from other toxic compounds. Unfortunately, through the mouth, humans ingest harmful compounds and microscopic organisms such as bacteria and viruses which cause diseases, stomach discomfort and chemical poisoning. This is because through ingestion, toxic materials use the same route as food and gets to the blood stream through the villi, into the veins to the rest of the body (CCOHS, 2013).
Cases of ingestion of harmful compounds by children have been reported, especially when such compounds have been kept in bottles meant for drinks such as juices. Ingestion of harmful materials may cause lead to serious cases such as death. It is therefore important to take great caution during food handling and storage. In addition, all harmful compounds should be kept where they cannot be confused with food materials. It is also wise for one to wash hands before handling any food material.