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Author Topic: could a smell kill you?  (Read 4813 times)

paul.fr

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could a smell kill you?
« on: 29/08/2007 23:46:23 »
one reason we use our sense of smell, is to alert us of a danger. but could an actual smell kill you?


 

Offline Garabato

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could a smell kill you?
« Reply #1 on: 30/08/2007 02:07:41 »
A poisonous gas maybe.
 

another_someone

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could a smell kill you?
« Reply #2 on: 30/08/2007 11:47:41 »
There is no way I know that our olfactory glands can send a signal to out brain that will cause us to die; but that does not mean that some toxins are not powerful enough (and lack any real smell) that even a slight inhalation for the purposes of smelling it might not kill you.

In the old days, chemists would often taste a new chemical when they synthesised it - I'm sure a few of them died that way too.
 

Online Bored chemist

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could a smell kill you?
« Reply #3 on: 30/08/2007 20:36:11 »
I guess that, in principle, a smell could bring back vivid memories. If that brought on a sufficiently powerfull emotional response in someone who already had a defective heart the shock might kill them, but I doubt it.
Very few compounds are so toxic that a quick sniff would kill you. It's still a bad idea to taste all the things you meet in the laboratory.
 

another_someone

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could a smell kill you?
« Reply #4 on: 31/08/2007 00:13:40 »
Certainly, cyanide and hydrogen sulphide are both highly toxic, but not so toxic that you could not sniff them (albeit, with great care); but I would be more careful about doing the same with sarin.
 

Offline peopleunit

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could a smell kill you?
« Reply #5 on: 31/08/2007 10:35:09 »
Perhaps if one were allergic to something, I imagine getting a good sniff of it might in some cases cause a lethal allergic reaction.

Similarly, for those who suffer from asthma - I imagine getting a good whiff of some respiratory irritant could result in an acute asthmatic attack.

Also, ordinary CO2 (carbon dioxide) is lethal given concentrations as low as 7%. I remember watching on TV some PBS show (probably Nature), just outside an African village was a low-lying swampy meadow that released a fog-like layer of highly concentrated CO2 just a few feet above ground (CO2 is heavier than air, and odorless). It didn't pose much of a problem for the adults as their heads would be above the layer when walking through the meadow. However, a young child (shorter in height) had wandered off and they later found the child in the center of the meadow, dead. :-(

I'm not sure how quick acting the CO2 is, but I don't think it would be too hard to learn more about it. Given the above scenario, I wonder if it doesn't render a person unconscious fairly quick, followed by death shortly thereafter. And of course, we're all somewhat familiar with CO (carbon-monoxide)poisoning.

Tidbit: Did you know that people who are allergic to cats are actually allergic to the cat's saliva, not the cat itself. Not that it makes any difference, seeing how they lick themselves to keep clean.

 

Offline stana

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could a smell kill you?
« Reply #6 on: 07/10/2007 21:02:52 »
Upon my trip to the famous   'Poisnonous garden'    I was told that even if i got a whiff of this plant, it will kill you..I think it kills all your sinoses, and works its way from there. But yes, smells can kill you, Gasses and such
 

Offline JimBob

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could a smell kill you?
« Reply #7 on: 07/10/2007 21:19:05 »
Not smelling can also kill you. Methane in it's pure form, has no small. That is why when the gas is delivered to your home it has an added substance to make it smell obnoxious.
 

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could a smell kill you?
« Reply #7 on: 07/10/2007 21:19:05 »

 

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