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Narcosis is a state of deep stupor or unconsciousness produced by a chemical substance such as a drug or anesthesia.
A narcotic is a substance that induces narcosis.
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Inhalation of certain chemicals can lead to narcosis. For example, diethyl ether and chloroform, two common organic solvents, were among the first examples of anesthesia known.
Deliberate inhalation of chemicals such as spray paints and household aerosols to obtain a quick "buzz" or high, a practice called huffing, is an disturbingly common activity among adolescents and young adults. This practice is exceedingly dangerous and likely to lead to brain damage or death. See the inhalants links under Further Reading for more information.
Many other chemicals that you would not suspect can also cause narcosis. For example, even though nitrogen gas comprises 78% of the air we breathe and is considered chemically inert (unreactive) it can cause narcosis under certain conditions.
This term usually appears on an Safety Data Sheet as a possible symptom of exposure, usually through inhalation. This would be listed in Section 11 (toxicological information) of the SDS.
Always work with adequate ventilation and avoid inhaling chemical fumes, mists, dusts etc. whenever possible. Use fume hoods and respirators as necessary. Section 8 (exposure controls/personal protection) of the SDS should suggest appropriate protective measures.
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See also: anesthesia, coma, ventilation.
Additional definitions from Google and OneLook.
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