Inhalation of chemicals occurs by absorption of chemicals via the respiratory tract (lungs). Once chemicals have entered into the respiratory tract, the chemicals can then be absorbed into the bloodstream for distribution throughout the body. Chemicals can be inhaled in the form of vapors, fumes, mists, aerosols and fine dust.
Symptoms of exposure to chemicals through inhalation include eye, nose, and throat irritation, coughing, difficulty in breathing, headache, dizziness, confusion, and collapse. If any of these symptoms are noted, leave the area immediately and get fresh air. Seek medical attention if symptoms persist and complete and Injury/Illness Report.
Laboratory workers can protect themselves from chemical exposure via inhalation through proper use of a functioning fume hood, use of dust masks and respirators when a fume hood is not available, avoiding bench top use of hazardous chemicals, ensuring chemical containers are kept tightly capped, and ensuring all chemical spills are promptly cleaned up.