Q:

What are the side effects of breathing antifreeze fumes?

A:

Quick Answer

Breathing the fumes of antifreeze can cause, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "eye and respiratory tract irritation but is unlikely to cause systemic toxicity." The harmful chemical within antifreeze that causes these side effects is called ethylene glycol.

Know More
What are the side effects of breathing antifreeze fumes?
Credit: Paul Cooper CC-BY-2.0

Full Answer

The active chemical in antifreeze, ethylene glycol, poses additional hazards in addition to harmful fumes. The CDC notes that beyond breathing the fumes, exposure to the eye is also a significant risk. Such exposure would result in localized discomfort, but would not pose a risk of systemic toxicity. Ethylene glycol is poorly absorbed through the skin, which means it would be difficult for the chemical to cause systemic toxicity.

Ethylene glycol reacts with oxidants and acids, particularly strong oxidants and acids. It is also a highly flammable chemical. Because ethylene glycol vapors are heavier than air, they can collect in poorly-ventilated areas, particularly those that are below ground level. When using ethylene glycol, one must be cautious to do so in a well ventilated area as to not let the fumes collect. In the case of skin exposure, ethylene glycol will generally only cause mild irritation. The fumes of the chemical are far more harmful than physical contact with the substance. In the case of skin exposure, soap and water should be used to prevent irritation.

Sources:

  1. cdc.gov

Is this answer helpful?

Similar Questions

  • Q:

    What are side effects of inhaling fumes from welding galvanized steel?

    A:

    Inhaling fumes from welding galvanized steel can result in an inhalation fever syndrome called metal fume fever, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information. Symptoms of metal fume fever include chest tightness, wheezing, cough, flu-like symptoms and a metallic taste in the mouth.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    What are side effects of inhaling toxic spray paint fumes?

    A:

    According to the International Labour Organization Encyclopaedia of Occupational Health and Safety, inhaling toxic spray paint fumes can cause inflammation of the upper and lower airways and spasms of the bronchial tubes. Additional side effects may include burning eyes, coughing, irritation of the mucous membranes and sore throat. It is important for individuals who have inhaled spray paint fumes to seek immediate medical attention if the airway becomes constricted.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    What are the symptoms of breathing diesel fumes?

    A:

    Symptoms of breathing in diesel fumes include lightheadedness, heartburn, nausea, wheezing and tightness in the chest, according to the United States National Library of Medicine Tox Town. Individuals with existing medical conditions, such as asthma or heart disease, may experience worse symptoms.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    What are the symptoms associated with inhaling antifreeze?

    A:

    The symptoms associated with inhaling antifreeze range from mucous membrane irritation to intolerable respiratory discomfort, depending on the level of exposure, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The source of negative symptoms from inhaling antifreeze is ethylene glycol.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:

Explore