Chemical burn from leak in ice pack! - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 12 Old 08-19-2008, 06:26 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Has anyone experienced a leak with a cold pack? I've only used regular gelatin packs but I borrowed one from a friend the other day and it turns out it was a chemical cold pack...I didn't know anything about these things.

Anyway, it was on my back and apparently sprung a leak because there was blue stuff all over my clothes. I didn't think much of it at the time...it never occured to me that the stuff would be full of chemicals. So I went to bed and woke up the next day with a burn in the shape of the pack on my back.

Has anyone had this happen? How did you treat it?

My biggest worries are where my hypochondriacal tendencies are taking me - is this systemic? is there toxic crap in my blood stream now? am i more susceptible to cancer (yes, I go there)?

I called poison control and they said that it is a local burn, not systemic and to treat the symptoms (for whatever reason, I didn't find them terribly reassuring). I saw my Dr. and she was useless. I'm going to go to a dermatologist tomorrow morning and hope I can get some reassurance there that all is well (besides this painful and ugly mess on my back).

I'm hopelessly distracted by this and need to resolve my questions about long term problems. If it's just a scar that will happen, no big deal. Vanity is not an issue.

Thanks for listening to me!
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#2 of 12 Old 08-19-2008, 06:46 PM
 
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I found this MSDS for an ice pack. This ice pack contains urea and water. If this is the brand you used, then I guess you sort of got a diaper rash on your back! Nothing to worry about, it seems.

Quote:
MATERIAL SAFETY DATA SHEET
VERSA-PAC ™ INSTANT ICE PACK
2. COMPOSITION/INFORMATION ON THE COMPONENTS
Component Name CAS# Concentration
Urea 57-13-6 40 - 70%
Water 7732-18-5 30 - 60%
3. HAZARD IDENTIFICATION
Main Hazards
Not classified as hazardous.
Carcinogenic Status
Not considered carcinogenic by NTP, IARC, and OSHA.
Health Effects – Skin
No adverse effects expected under normal conditions of use. Prolonged contact with dry material may
cause mild skin irritation including redness and burning.
4. FIRST AID MEASURES
Skin
Wash skin thoroughly with soap and water. Obtain medical attention if soreness or redness persists.

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#3 of 12 Old 08-19-2008, 06:53 PM
 
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I just realized you had a chemical ice pack. Here's an MSDS for ammonium nitrate. The only concern would be nitrate absorbing thru your skin and then forming nitrites in your body. Since you're not slathering yourself with nitrates every day, I wouldn't worry about it.

ETA: it may have contained ammonium chloride instead of ammonium nitrate. Even less worrisome I believe.

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#4 of 12 Old 08-19-2008, 07:10 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you, Lily's Mom!! I really appreciate it. I've found similar bits of info online. What would nitrates in your system mean?
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#5 of 12 Old 08-19-2008, 07:12 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Like nitrates that are found in meat?

I think the pack I had didn't contain this particular chemical...I think those are the ones that you break and then the pack becomes cold without refridgeration.

Perhaps it was ammonium chloride. Eegads, this has really spun my poor little brain around in circles. I try so hard not to have chemicals in my home and to have this happen just freaked me out.

Thanks again!
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#6 of 12 Old 08-19-2008, 08:53 PM
 
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Originally Posted by swampangel View Post
What would nitrates in your system mean?
From the ammonium nitrate msds:

Quote:
Special Remarks on Chronic Effects on Humans:
Carcinogenic effects: At this time, no studies were found on the possible carcinogenicity of Ammonium Nitrate in
humans or experimental animals. However nitrates can be reduced to nitrites in the body, and the formed nitrites can
subsequently react with amines to form suspect carcinogens N-nitrosamines.
Note that it does say chronic effects...a one-time exposure is not much to worry about.

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#7 of 12 Old 08-19-2008, 08:57 PM
 
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Originally Posted by swampangel View Post
I think the pack I had didn't contain this particular chemical...I think those are the ones that you break and then the pack becomes cold without refridgeration.

Perhaps it was ammonium chloride.
Ammonium chloride is found in the packs you break that become cold without refridgeration...was it a freezer cold pack that you had? I think those ones are most likely completely non-toxic.

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#8 of 12 Old 08-19-2008, 10:09 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Lily's Mom, I just wanna give you a big ol' for responding and being so sweet. I've been a wreck about it all day and I'm finally starting to feel less worried.

The pack is the hot/cold kind with the blue gel stuff in it. You can microwave it to be hot or put it in the freezer for a cold pack.

I finally broke down and called my sister who is an internist. She said it sounded like classic contact dermatitis which she said can be like a burn. She doesn't think anything absorbed but that I had an allergic type of reaction to whatever chemicals are in it.

I'm still seeing the dermatologist tomorrow, but I sure feel a lot better about the whole thing...and you were so helpful Lily's Mom! Thank you so much.
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#9 of 12 Old 08-20-2008, 02:49 AM
 
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Awww, I know the feeling to think that you've been 'contaminated'...a fluorescent light broke above our kitchen counter a while ago and I was freaking out about mercury exposure. I posted on MDC and several people reassured me that the amount of mercury is so tiny, I shouldn't worry about it.

Here's some info on the 'cold comfort' cold packs, which is probably what you had:

Quote:
It is comprised of 70 weight percent water, 25 weight percent propylene glycol and 5 weight
hydroxypropyl methylcellulose percent , type K15MDGS, as purchased from Dow Chemical Company, Midland, Mich. 48640 under the trademark "METHOCEL". The gel is made by first wetting the hydroxypropyl methylcellulose with the propylene glycol. The water
is next added to form the finished gel.
Propylene glycol is in personal care products and even in some foods. The hydroxypropyl methylcellulose sounds pretty innocuous too. It looks like there was nothing carcinogenic in the pack.

From the propylene glycol MSDS:

Quote:
CAUTION! MAY CAUSE IRRITATION TO SKIN AND EYES.
Skin Contact:
Mild irritant and defatting agent, especially on prolonged contact. Remove any contaminated clothing. Wash skin with soap and water for at least 15 minutes. Get medical attention if irritation develops or persists.
Sounds like that's what happened to you! Prolonged contact and skin irritation.

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#10 of 12 Old 08-21-2008, 02:57 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by Lily's_Mom View Post
Awww, I know the feeling to think that you've been 'contaminated'...a fluorescent light broke above our kitchen counter a while ago and I was freaking out about mercury exposure. I posted on MDC and several people reassured me that the amount of mercury is so tiny, I shouldn't worry about it.
That must have been scary! And yes, it's very much that feeling of having been contaminated by freaky chemicals. It just makes me a bit loony.

I went to the derm. and she said it was probably a chemical burn and would heal over time. She didn't think there was anything to worry about. I did find the MSDS for the particular pack...the main ingredients were:

WATER 7732-18-5 NONE
PROPYLENE GLYCOL 57-55-6 NONE
TRIETHANALOMINE 99% (TEA 99) 102-71-6 5 MG/M3
(DILUTE TEA 99 50% + TAP
WATER 50%)
POLYACRYLIC ACID (CARBOPOL) 9003-01-4 NONE
FD&C BLUE DYE #1 (220-405-55) 3844-45-9 NONE
COSEPT 200 (QUATERNIUM-15) 51229-78-8 NONE
*LIMIT ESTABLISHED BY ACGIH AS AN 8 HOUR TIME WEIGHTED AVERAGE

The derm confirmed that none of these were anything to worry about and I've saved her voicemail stating this so I can listen to it when I start to worry. I can be seriously neurotic!

Anyway, thanks so much for all of the information you shared and just chatting with me about it. It helped so much.
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#11 of 12 Old 08-21-2008, 05:18 AM
 
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Originally Posted by swampangel View Post
The derm confirmed that none of these were anything to worry about and I've saved her voicemail stating this so I can listen to it when I start to worry. I can be seriously neurotic!


Glad to hear to hear how well it went at the doctor's.

Take care

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#12 of 12 Old 01-16-2014, 02:11 PM
 
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*Picture of my neck right now just from having the pack on my neck without a towel.

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