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My instructor once while teaching qualitative analysis told us that there's a salt in laboratory which, if inhaled, causes cold and cough. Is that true? Because today I was identifying a salt in the lab which was $\ce{AlCl3}$ and now I can feel that I've cold and cough. Is it true? Could there be any connection?

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    $\begingroup$ How is this related to qualitative analysis? $\endgroup$
    – DHMO
    Commented Sep 28, 2016 at 14:54
  • $\begingroup$ Qualitative analysis is related to finding salts. $\endgroup$
    – Pragya
    Commented Sep 28, 2016 at 14:55
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    $\begingroup$ I don't advise you finding salts by exploring their effect on your body. $\endgroup$
    – DHMO
    Commented Sep 28, 2016 at 14:55
  • $\begingroup$ But that was purely accidental. Our sir told us that it can happen. So today it did. I want to if there's a connection. If the teacher was right or not $\endgroup$
    – Pragya
    Commented Sep 28, 2016 at 14:58
  • $\begingroup$ Welcome to chemistry.stackexchange.com. Feel free to take a tour of the site. Visit the help center to learn more about how it works. $\endgroup$
    – Jan
    Commented Sep 28, 2016 at 15:04

1 Answer 1

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A "cold" is viral infection of the respiratory tract. That is: it is caused by a virus (and the human body's inability to protect itself from it) and affects the nose, throat and/or lungs. I hope you are not asking whether a chemical compound (a salt) is a virus. Part of our bodies immune response is the mucus that coats our nasal passages and throat, the lungs have a similar protective layer. Inhalation of a wide variety of chemical compounds can damage the mucal layer (reduce our immune response) allowing a virus to gain a foothold. Inhalation of a variety of chemicals (most chemicals) is TOXIC and will damage or kill healthy tissue. You are sadly mistaken if you think your question has anything to do with qualitative analysis. It is a question about lab safety, or if your knowledge of human health is limited, as it seems it is, a question of medicine and health. AlCl3 shouldn't be inhaled. It reacts with water to form hydrochloric acid. You should have learned this, if you are working with it. If your teacher is so incompetent that he didn't teach you this, your parents should report him to his superiors. A fume of it can kill you (it would take a lot, not likely in qualitative analysis lab), and lesser concentrations will ...surprise, surprise, damage your lungs.

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  • $\begingroup$ You're mostly right, but there is a proper way to do a smell test to confirm certain compounds. There are also chemicals for which doing a smell test would be really stupid. The object in a proper smell test is to get a whiff of the airborne smell, not snort the solid. // One use for a smell test is that a mercaptan is added to the natural gas piped into homes. The smell is explicitly used to alert users of a gas leak. $\endgroup$
    – MaxW
    Commented Sep 29, 2016 at 4:37
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    $\begingroup$ Breaking the different thoughts in the answer into separate paragraphs would help too. $\endgroup$
    – MaxW
    Commented Sep 29, 2016 at 4:54

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