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Toxic gases and aerosols 

Toxic gases and aerosols
Toxic gases and aerosols

Chris Stenton

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date: 02 March 2021

Acute exposure to noxious agents causes pulmonary effects that are determined by the size of aerosol particles and by the solubility of gases. Large particles (>10 um) and soluble agents such as CS gas, ammonia, or sulphur dioxide affect primarily the upper respiratory tract, causing lacrimation, blepharospasm, rhinitis, cough, and breathlessness. Nitrogen oxides, ozone, and other agents of low solubility affect mainly the lungs, with pneumonitis and pulmonary oedema that can develop 24 hours or more after exposure. Smoke inhalation, intermediate solubility gases such as chlorine, and overwhelming exposures have effects throughout the respiratory tract. Some inhaled gases such as carbon monoxide and methane act as simple asphyxiants. Other reactions occur, such as metal fume fever with zinc and cadmium, and pulmonary haemorrhage with crack cocaine. Management is essentially supportive. Carboxyhaemoglobin and lactate levels should be measured with smoke inhalation.

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