Aspiration Hazards In The Workplace


What Is An Aspiration Hazard?

An aspiration hazard is a hazardous substance that may be fatal if they are swallowed and enter the airways through inhalation.

Why Is An Aspiration Hazard Harmful?

Aspiration hazards can cause asphyxiation, injury or negative health effects. Aspiration hazards can range in toxicity from dangerous to fatal. Aspiration hazards have the potential to cause asphyxiation, chemical pneumonia, injury, or negative health effects. More serious aspiration hazards are classified as category 1 and can be fatal if inhaled. Category 2 aspiration hazards are less dangerous but still harmful.

How Does An Aspiration Hazard Harm My Body?

Aspiration means a liquid or solid material enters the body through the oral or nasal cavity and travels into the trachea and lower respiratory area of the body. Aspiration begins at the moment of inspiration, in the time required for one breath, as the material touches the area where the upper respiratory and digestive tracts cross.

What Is Chemical Pneumonitis?

Chemical pneumonitis occurs when a person inhales (aspirates) material that is toxic to the lungs. The problem is more the result of irritation than infection.  

Symptoms of chemical pneumonitis include sudden shortness of breath and a cough that develops within minutes or hours. Other symptoms may include fever and pink frothy sputum. In less severe cases, the symptoms of aspiration pneumonia may occur a day or two after inhalation of the toxin. 

Who Needs To Be Concerned About An Aspiration Hazard?

Some common products we use every day like gasoline, kerosene, nail polish remover, WD-40 or paint thinners have aspiration hazards. Children are particularly susceptible to health effects if they inhale these hazardous products.