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          Chemical Pneumonia


Should any of the signs or symptoms occur, call your doctor or the local poison control center. Any person with serious signs or symptoms should be transported immediately by ambulance to the nearest hospital's Emergency Department capable of managing someone with chemical pneumonia.

Chemical identification is helpful both for the poison control center and the doctor. People with few, if any, symptoms or those with grave symptoms should be particularly careful to identify the chemical. This should not take precedence over medical care, however, especially for those with severe signs or symptoms.

Immediate evaluation in a hospital's emergency department is necessary for treating the following conditions:

  • Unconsciousness
  • Cyanosis - A blue discoloration of the mouth or skin
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Sudden change of voice
  • Mouth or throat swelling
  • chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Cough productive of frothy or bloody spit
  • Altered thinking and reasoning skills
  • Exposure to potentially deadly chemical
  • Vomiting and aspiration

The poison control center may suggest other conditions particular to the chemical that would need emergency care.


Self-Care at Home

Your decision to seek medical care depends on the severity of signs and symptoms and other factors of exposure. If you accidentally inhale a chemical, you probably want some medical advice. You can call your local poison control center for help. If your symptoms are serious, you will want immediate treatment at a hospital.

Home care may be the most important aspect of medical management.

Quickly get away from the offending chemical or area of exposure. If possible, avoid exposing others to the same chemical. Once you're away from the area, consider further decontamination, such as removing your clothes and showering.

Alert the appropriate authorities to avoid further casualties.
Identify and contain the chemical.
Medical evaluation may involve local police, fire department, emergency medical services (EMS), and hazardous materials personnel.


Prognosis depends on the chemical exposure and person's medical condition. For example, an elderly person with lung disease exposed to moderate amounts of vaporized ammonium chloride might suffer serious problems as compared to a young athlete with no lung problems. In general, the more severe the symptoms, the more likely you will suffer short- and long-term complications.

Short-term complications include other organ injury in addition to possible death.
Long-term complications include lung scarring and recurrent pneumonia.


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