Definition of Irritant

Outside the scientific setting irritant is used to describe a perceived sensation, like smell, which can give rise to complaints from individuals who are disturbed by the smell.  In general terms, things that stimulate our sense of touch, smell or taste but do not affect the function of the body in any way, should be described as irritants.  In the occupational setting however, any substance which is recognised as a controlled substance which can affect the functions of the body is also called an irritant.  Irritant, when described in occupational medicine, is wide ranging and is frequently used to describe carcinogens, mutagens, allergens and toxins, etc. It is important to realise that when health professionals [i.e. research scientists] advise the public that a substance is an irritant, the public perception of that irritant is likely be something quite different.

Author - Armitage; copyright 2007

key words: sensitisation, immunogenic, asthmagenic, haptenic, haptens, synergism, tvoc, rhinitis, headache, asthma, rapeseed, canola, GMOs, immunocompromised, OSR, volatiles, volatile organic compounds, terpenes, attractants, alternaria, irritants, reactive airways dysfunction syndrome, chemical sensitivity, eczema, ozone, yellow peril, pungent, biodiesel, biofuel, rme, cap, set-aside, double low, allergy, armitage

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