What are the side effects of inhaling ammonia?
Exposure to high concentrations of ammonia in air causes immediate burning of the nose, throat and respiratory tract. This can cause bronchiolar and alveolar edema, and airway destruction resulting in respiratory distress or failure. Inhalation of lower concentrations can cause coughing, and nose and throat irritation.
Ammonia is a strong, colorless gas. If the gas is dissolved in water, it is called liquid ammonia. Poisoning may occur if you breathe in ammonia. Poisoning may also occur if you swallow or touch products that contain very large amounts of ammonia.
- These burns might be serious enough to cause permanent blindness, lung disease, or death. Likewise, if you accidentally ate or drank concentrated ammonia, you might experience burns in your mouth, throat, and stomach. There is no evidence that ammonia causes cancer.
- Ammonia poisoning is a common fish disease in new aquariums, especially when immediately stocked to full capacity. Ideally, the level of ammonia (NH3) and ammonium compounds (i.e. those containing NH4+) should be zero. Although trace amounts are generally harmless, they can still lead to problems over time.
- Urea is one of the waste products found in urine. It's a byproduct of the breakdown of protein and can be broken down further to ammonia in certain situations. Therefore, many conditions that result in concentrated urine can cause urine that smells like ammonia.
When ammonia becomes toxic. In healthy people the liver will convert ammonia into urea, a substance which washes out with the urine. People with impaired liver function will, however, be unable to rid their body of ammonia fast enough. The result is excessive concentrations of ammonia in the blood.
- Signs and symptoms of early-onset hyperammonemia (neonates) may include the following:
- Poor feeding.
- Hyperventilation, grunting respiration.
- When ammonia is present in water at high enough levels, it is difficult for aquatic organisms to sufficiently excrete the toxicant, leading to toxic buildup in internal tissues and blood, and potentially death. Environmental factors, such as pH and temperature, can affect ammonia toxicity to aquatic animals.
- Once nicotine vaporizes into a gas, it is quickly absorbed by the lungs and distributed throughout the body. Tobacco manufacturers discovered that adding ammonia to the cigarette manufacturing process helped convert bound nicotine molecules in tobacco smoke into free nicotine molecules by raising their pH.
Updated: 2nd October 2019