Q:

What are the symptoms associated with inhaling antifreeze?

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Quick Answer

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.

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Full Answer

Move an individual experiencing symptoms of ethylene glycol inhalation to fresh air, recommends the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. If the individual is not breathing, immediately administer artificial respiration and contact medical personnel. Medical personnel should administer oxygen if the affected individual is having trouble breathing.

The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services lists symptoms of inhaling high vapor concentration of ethylene glycol as headache, dizziness, nausea, vomiting and irregular eye movements. Prolonged or repeated exposure may result in dizziness or jerking eye movements, meaning the central nervous system is affected. An individual should avoid inhaling any mist or hot vapor from antifreeze.

Low-level exposure to ethylene glycol for about a month has been shown in one study to cause throat and upper respiratory tract irritation in individuals, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Several studies have shown that ethylene glycol inhalation causes fetus damage in rodents. Ethylene glycol has not been classified for carcinogenicity by the EPA.

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