Inhalation Risk of Chemical Odor

Inhalation Risk of Chemical Odor
Published on, 17 July, 2023. Answered by Dr. Muhammad Idrees Khan and Verified by Dr.Galen Team
Patient Question

Hello Doctor,


I inadvertently smelled a chemical inside its box, but not in the air. Is it hazardous? Did I inhale it or just smell it?



Thank you for reaching out to Dr. Galen. Please find the below response to your query.


Usually, there is a difference between inhaling and smelling. Inhalation involves a larger amount of substance, while smelling occurs with a smaller amount. Smell is a separate entity, although with prolonged smelling, some particles may be inadvertently inhaled. However, this is not always the case. Regarding your specific query, it is important to consider the composition and toxicity of the chemical in question, as well as the amount inhaled or smelled. Only a few chemicals are toxic even through smell, and they are typically not readily available without proper protocols. If the smell dissipated quickly and you only briefly encountered a small amount, there is likely no cause for concern. However, if the chemical is marked as toxic, and you have been exposed to a large amount for an extended period, it may be prudent to observe yourself for any symptoms. In most cases, once the chemical is inhaled and exhaled, it is no longer present in the body. I hope this explanation provides some clarity.




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About Dr. Muhammad Idrees Khan

Dr. Muhammad Idrees Khan

Internal Medicine Specialist

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