Lauric acid is considered as a major type of acid that is present in oil produced by coconuts. Just like with other acids present in food products, it is generally safe in small amounts. On the other hand, exposure to concentrated forms can be dangerous. With this in mind, it is important that you are familiar with the potential dangers as well as how to treat or manage any possible side effects. Observing the proper safety precautions can help prevent any damage.
It is important to note that lauric acid can cause irritation of the skin due to exposure. You have to remove clothing that has been contaminated right away as exposure occurs. As a first aid measure, you have to rinse the affected area under running water and scrub it using a non-exfoliating soap. You have to pay close attention to the deep wrinkles or folds in the skin to ensure that the acid has been thoroughly washed. After washing, pat the skin dry and apply a deep moisturizer. It is best to seek medical care once the irritation worsens or persists after 24 hours.
If lauric acid enters the eyes, it can cause irritation and burning sensation. In case the individual is wearing contacts, you have to remove them and rinse the eyes with water. Bring the individual to the emergency department at the nearest hospital after exposure. If needed, you can call for emergency assistance.
Ingestion of lauric acid
Ingestion of lauric acid can lead to nausea and vomiting. It is important to remove all tight clothing such as belts, collared shirts and constricting pants immediately. In severe cases, ingestion can stop the breathing which is a condition that requires mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and emergency assistance. Regardless of the severity of the reaction, emergency care is vital.
Once lauric acid is inhaled, it can lead to respiratory problems such as pain in the lungs and difficulty breathing. You have to transfer the individual to a properly ventilated area. Instruct the individual to breathe at a normal rate until the breathing returns to normal. In case breathing is faltering or difficulty breathing persists longer than several minutes, it is best to seek immediate medical care.
As a water pollutant
Lauric acid is dangerous to all forms of life once it seeps into the water systems. If this occurs, it is important to notify the local health and wildlife offices right away. If there is a water intake close by, the operators should also be notified.
Flammable nature of lauric acid
Lauric acid has the potential to be combustible at high temperatures usually at 230 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. Minor fires can be controlled by smothering the flames using a dry chemical powder. As for large fires, they can be controlled with a water spray, fire extinguisher or alcohol foam.