ToxFAQs™ for Selenium Hexafluoride
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This fact sheet answers the most frequently asked health questions about selenium hexafluoride. For more information, call the ATSDR Information Center at 1-800-232-4636. This fact sheet is one in a series of summaries about hazardous substances and their health effects. It is important you understand this information because this substance may harm you. The effects of exposure to any hazardous substance depend on the dose, the duration, how you are exposed, personal traits and habits, and whether other chemicals are present.
Selenium hexafluoride is a corrosive gas. Significant exposure may occur only if you work with selenium hexafluoride. It is unlikely that the general population will be exposed to this substance. Exposure to selenium hexafluoride can cause irritation of the respiratory airway, skin and eyes. Exposure to high levels can cause severe skin and eye damage and accumulation of fluid in the lungs, and even death. Selenium hexafluoride has not been found in any of the 1,585 National Priorities List sites identified by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
What is selenium hexaflouride?
Selenium hexafluoride is a corrosive, colorless gas at room temperature. Selenium hexafluoride is
only slightly soluble in water. It does not occur naturally in the environment.
Selenium hexafluoride is used as a gaseous electrical insulator.
What happens to selenium hexaflouride when it enters the environment?
- When released to air, selenium hexafluoride will react
with moisture, forming other compounds which are removed
from the atmosphere by rainfall.
- Selenium hexafluoride is slightly soluble in water. It
reacts slowly with water to form other compounds. It may
also evaporate from water.
- Selenium hexafluoride does not accumulate in the food chain.
How might I be exposed to selenium hexaflouride?
- The general population is unlikely to be exposed to selenium hexafluoride.
- Workers that use selenium hexafluoride as a gaseous electric
insulator or use selenium hexafluoride to produce other
selenium containing compounds may be exposed to this gas.
How can selenium hexaflouride affect my health?
Exposure to low levels of selenium hexafluoride
gas can cause irritation of the respiratory airway, skin,
and eye. Exposure to high levels can lead to severe skin and
eye damage, accumulation of fluid in the lungs, and eventually
Exposure to the liquified gas can cause severe skin injury or frostbite and also severe eye damage
Long-term exposure to low concentrations
of selenium hexafluoride may cause effects similar to exposure
to other selenium or fluoride compounds, such as pale appearance,
nervousness, depression, gastrointestinal problems, lack of
appetite, weight loss, and dental defects.
There is no information on whether exposure to selenium hexafluoride may affect the reproductive system in humans or in animals.
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How likely is selenium hexaflouride to cause cancer?
The Department of Health and Human Services
(DHHS), the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC),
and the EPA have not classified selenium hexafluoride as to
its carcinogenicity to humans. There are no studies of carcinogenity
of selenium hexafluoride in animals.
How can selenium hexaflouride affect children?
There are no studies on the health effects
of children exposed to selenium hexafluoride. It is likely
that the health effects seen in children exposed to this chemical
will be similar to the effects seen in adults. In general,
children may be more vulnerable to corrosive agents because
of the smaller diameter of their airways.
We do not know if exposure to selenium
hexafluoride will result in birth defects or other developmental
effects in people. There are no developmental studies in laboratory
How can families reduce the risk of exposure to selenium hexaflouride?
Most families will not be exposed to selenium hexafluoride.
Is there a medical test to show whether I've been exposed to selenium hexaflouride?
There are no tests to determine whether
you have been exposed to selenium hexafluoride. If you suspect
exposure, a chest x-ray be an appropriate way to determine
whether your lungs have been damaged.
Has the federal government made recommendations to protect human health?
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration
(OSHA) has set an exposure limit of 0.05 parts of selenium
hexafluoride per million parts of workroom air (0.05 ppm)
for an 8-hour work shift, 40 hour work week.
Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease
Registry (ATSDR). 2002. Managing Hazardous Materials Incidents.
Volume III. Medical Management Guidelines for Acute
Chemical Exposures: Selenium Hexafluoride. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service.
Where can I get more information?
If you have questions or concerns, please contact your community or state health or environmental quality department or:
For more information, contact:
Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry
Division of Toxicology and Human Health Sciences
4770 Buford Highway
Chamblee, GA 30341-3717
Phone: 1-800-CDC-INFO 888-232-6348 (TTY)
Email: Contact CDC-INFO
ATSDR can also tell you the location of occupational and environmental health clinics. These clinics specialize in recognizing, evaluating, and treating illnesses resulting from exposure to hazardous substances.