Workplace Chemical Hazards & Occupational Renal Disease

How Is the Kidney Affected By Chemicals in The Workplace?

Your kidneys are vital organs that filter 180 litres of blood every 24 hours. Chemicals and toxins also get filtered through our kidneys. Exposure to harmful chemical substances can cause adverse effects on the kidney, ureter, or bladder (Kidney Toxicity). The kidney is vulnerable because of its role in filtering the blood. Some chemicals and heavy metals cause severe injury to the kidney, while others produce chronic changes that can lead to kidney failure and cancer. 

How Do Workers Get Exposed to Occupational Renal Disease in the Workplace?

In the workplace, the most common route of exposure to occupational renal disease is by inhalation (breathing a substance into the lungs), skin absorption, and swallowing.

What are Symptoms of Occupational Kidney Disease?

Common symptoms of occupational-related kidney disease could include: 

  • Fatigue 
  • Trouble sleeping 
  • Dry and itchy skin 
  • Frequent urination 
  • Poor appetite 
  • Swollen feet and ankles 
  • Muscle cramping 
  • Eye puffiness 

Who is At Risk for Occupational Renal Disease?

Some workers are at higher risk of kidney disease than others. The two most common causes of kidney disease are:

  • Diabetes, and
  • High blood pressure

An employee with diabetes may have injured blood vessels in the kidneys which results in unfiltered blood. With high blood pressure, the heart is forced to work harder, and work overtime, which also will damage blood cells and the kidneys.  If you suffer from either of these conditions, it is very important that you familiarize yourself with the hazards in your workplace, as you are already at high risk for developing occupational-related kidney disease. 


Elevate the level of occupational health standards for your company.


What Chemicals Can Cause Damage to Your Kidneys?

Some examples of occupational chemical products that can contribute to kidney damage and failure are benzene, organic solvents such as fuels, paints, and degreasing agents. Agrochemicals such as fertilizers and pesticides can also cause kidney illness. Workplace exposures to heavy metals such as cadmium and lead are also known to cause toxic injury to the kidneys. 

How Does Dehydration Augment Occupational Kidney Damage?

Drinking water when you work outside especially on hot days is important for kidney health. Water removes waste from your blood in the form of urine and helps to open your blood vessels so nutrients can reach your kidneys. When you are dehydrated, your kidneys must work harder to remove waste and deliver nutrients. Mild dehydration causes fatigue and can impair some normal body functions. Severe dehydration can lead to kidney damage, so it’s important to drink enough when you work outside or exercise very hard, and especially in warm and humid weather. Frequent dehydration may lead to permanent kidney damage.

How to Prevent Occupational Renal Disease

Reading the Safety Data Sheet for the chemicals you work with and understanding the hazards you are working with is an important step in prevention of renal disease.

If you’re looking to manage occupational-related kidney health risks, get in touch with the team at Chemscape Safety Technologies today to learn more about our SDS management solutions and award-winning Chemical Management Software.


Keep your workers healthy, safe, and productive.