Concrete, while it is still wet, is notorious for its harmful effects on the skin and contact dermatitis (which means inflammation of the skin which has come into contact with a harmful substance) is a well known side effect of handling concrete.
Many other chemicals, including creosote, which we come across every day can also lead to dermatitis if splashed on the skin which becomes inflamed, red, itchy, scaly and cracked.
There are two possible types of dermatitis with concrete:
- Irritant dermatitis is the result of direct damage to the skin. It is caused by the combination of wetness, chemical corrosiveness and abrasiveness of cement in concrete and mortar.
- Allergic dermatitis occurs when a person becomes sensitised to chromium salts. These are present in the raw materials used to make cement. Sensitisation to additives such as pigments, epoxy resins and hardeners can also occur.
It´s also possible to get severe chemical burns from the cement if freshly-mixed concrete or mortar gets stuck against the skin. This can be particularly difficult and slow to heal, and may need skin grafting.
There are many other health risks with concrete - and anyone using it would be well advised to check out the advice from the UK Health and Safety Executive.