Q:

Are antifreeze fumes harmful?

A:

Quick Answer

Ethylene glycol, the primary ingredient in common antifreeze, is harmful if inhaled. Inhaling antifreeze fumes causes dizziness in some individuals. At high concentrations, ethylene glycol is toxic. Breathing the vapors also causes headaches, lower back pain and eye irritation.

Know More
Are antifreeze fumes harmful?
Credit: Anthony Easton CC-BY 2.0

Full Answer

If an individual is suffering from ethylene glycol inhalation, responders should move him to an area away from the fumes. If the fumes are affecting his eyes, the responder should use lukewarm water to remove the chemical from the eyes. If the victim is having difficulty breathing, responders should provide oxygen therapy.

The greatest danger from the toxic effects of ethylene glycol occurs when it is ingested. It has a sweet flavor, and antifreeze manufacturers give it a bright color, making it attractive to children and animals. Ingesting antifreeze causes a reaction similar to alcohol but without the characteristic alcohol odor. Antifreeze ingestion causes damage to the heart, kidneys and lungs and may result in death. It is also absorbed through the skin, with similar toxic effects.

An alternative type of antifreeze, based on propylene glycol, is also available. This type of antifreeze is less toxic to humans and pets. Propylene glycol requires a much larger volume to do the same damage. The label of the product informs consumers of the primary chemical used to supply the antifreeze properties.

Learn more about Car Parts & Maintenance

Related Questions

  • Q:

    Is coolant the same as antifreeze?

    A:

    Antifreeze and engine coolant are the same product, sold in the same packaging, and both go into the vehicle's radiator. All gasoline engines need water to circulate through them to maintain a stable operating temperature. Antifreeze keeps the water stable across a broad range of temperatures, from freezing to boiling.

    Full Answer >
  • Q:

    What does antifreeze do to humans if ingested?

    A:

    A person who ingests antifreeze usually exhibits symptoms of poisoning, including nausea, vomiting, dizziness, fatigue and headache, according to MedlinePlus. Slurred speech, stupor, rapid heartbeat, low blood pressure, and problems with vision, breathing and urination can also result. Ingesting antifreeze sometimes leads to organ failure, coma and death.

    Full Answer >
  • Q:

    What is the difference between antifreeze and coolant?

    A:

    Antifreeze is used to lower a freezing point, whereas coolant is used to remove heat. Antifreeze is chiefly used to lower the freezing point in the radiator of a motor vehicle. Coolant is a substance typically used to reduce the temperature of the liquid in an automobile cooling system.

    Full Answer >
  • Q:

    What does antifreeze smell like?

    A:

    Antifreeze has a sweet smell like pancake or maple syrup. If the smell is noticeable inside the vehicle, the heater core is likely to be leaking. Smelling the sweet scent outside the vehicle indicates that the coolant leak might be in a hose or the radiator.

    Full Answer >

Explore