Toxicology of nasal irritants

Curr Allergy Asthma Rep. 2003 May;3(3):258-65. doi: 10.1007/s11882-003-0048-z.


The upper airway, including nasal cavities, naso-, oro-, and hypopharynx, is the portal of entry for air pollutants. Upper airway (as well as eye) irritation figures prominently in symptom reporting in so-called problem buildings and with exposure to environmental tobacco smoke. Large particles and water-soluble gases and vapors are likely to have their initial irritant effects in the mucous membranes of the upper airway and eyes, giving warning to the exposed individual to minimize further exposure. The spectrum of irritant-related upper airway health effects is reviewed in this article.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Environmental Exposure
  • Humans
  • Irritants / toxicity*
  • Nose / anatomy & histology
  • Nose / drug effects*
  • Nose / physiology
  • Occupational Diseases / etiology
  • Reflex / drug effects
  • Rhinitis, Allergic, Perennial / etiology
  • Rhinitis, Allergic, Seasonal / etiology
  • Sensation / drug effects


  • Irritants