Send to:

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Crit Rev Toxicol. 2004 Mar-Apr;34(2):85-142.

Assessment of upper respiratory tract and ocular irritative effects of volatile chemicals in humans.

Author information

  • 1Smell & Taste Center, University of Pennsylvania, Medical Center, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA.


Accurate assessment of upper respiratory tract and ocular irritation is critical for identifying and remedying problems related to overexposure to volatile chemicals, as well as for establishing parameters of irritation useful for regulatory purposes. This article (a) describes the basic anatomy and physiology of the human upper respiratory tract and ocular mucosae, (b) discusses how airborne chemicals induce irritative sensations, and (c) reviews practical means employed for assessing such phenomena, including psychophysical (e.g., threshold and suprathreshold perceptual measures), physiological (e.g., cardiovascular responses), electrophysiological (e.g., event-related potentials), and imaging (e.g., magnetic resonance imaging) techniques. Although traditionally animal models have been used as the first step in assessing such irritation, they are not addressed here since (a) there are numerous reviews available on this topic and (b) many rodents and rabbits are obligate nose breathers whose nasal passages differ considerably from those of humans, potentially limiting generalization of animal-based data to humans. A major goal of this compendium is to inform the reader of procedures for assessing irritation in humans and to provide information of value in the continued interpretation and development of empirical databases upon which future reasoned regulatory health decisions can be made.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk