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Home > resource-centre > Can Rubbish Odour Harm You?

Can Rubbish Odour Harm You?

Dec 14, 2017

Is this a physical question or is a matter of “the nose knows best”? Can a smell in itself affect you physically that you become ill from it? Let’s consider how smell works and see what the effect is on our body.

How does smell work?

Smell comes about when molecules of a particular substance travel into your nose. These odour molecules come in contact with a tissue in our nose which contains receptor cells that lock onto these odours and send a signal to the brain.

Odours do not usually contain bacteria; therefore, they can’t usually make you sick. However, some gaseous compounds can have other effects on your health by causing shortness of breath, headaches, eye irritation, or, if large amounts are inhaled, sever health concerns.In regards to rubbish, here’s how the odours could make you sick:

Hydrogen sulphide

One of the most foul-smelling substances is hydrogen sulphide, which has a characteristic similar to the smell of rotten-egg. This gas is produced by the anaerobic (oxygen-free) breakdown of organic matter by bacteria. It is a common component of “sewer gas.” But this gas does not cause disease; rather, when molecules of this substance enter your nose, they can attack the central nervous system. Exposure to even small amounts can be fatal. So, it’s not the smell that may kill you, but rather the gas that enters your body.

The health effects of hydrogen sulphide depend on the amount inhaled and for how long. 

Exposure to low concentrations can produce irritation of the nose and throat and lead to loss of appetite and headache. Higher concentrations can cause eye irritation, coughing, and loss of smell. If the amount of inhaled hydrogen sulphide is excessive, damage to the eyes can occur, along with the accumulation of fluid in the lungs. In severe cases, some people can lose consciousness, or potentially die.

Hydrogen sulphide can sometimes be found in garbage, which makes it crucial to ensure all your residential and commercial rubbish is removed properly by a waste removal company.

For safe and effective waste management, call WM Waste on 1300 969 278, or get in touch with us online.

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