While some substances that contain toxic ingredients may assist us in the cleaning of our homes, some of the included chemicals may irritate your skin, eyes, throat, and nose. Sometimes the contact with these chemicals can even result in death if used improperly. Always exercising proper caution and reading the labels when using these types of products is necessary, although inhaling certain toxins can’t always be helped.

Being in smoky bars, for example, are one of your lung’s worst enemies. We’re not saying to go sit at the library on a Saturday night when all of your friends are having the time of their lives at a restaurant or bar, but maybe you could suggest a non-smoking place that everyone can enjoy. Obviously, your respiratory health won’t deteriorate if you visit them once in a blue moon, but over time, it can cause irreparable damage.

Breathing in toxic substances can be compared to tanning. Sure, you look nice and tan now (maybe even borderline Jersey Shore, which is actually quite terrifying) but later on in life, say hello to looking 60 when you’re 40. The same goes for those nasty toxic chemicals; you feel and breathe fine today, but sound like 88-year-old Grandpa Joe tomorrow. Not pretty. Respiratory therapist care is more important than you may know, so read up. Here are 5 of the most toxic substances that your sniffer shouldn’t be getting into:

1. Nicotine: A pale-yellow to dark-brown liquid with a minor fishy odor, nicotine is a potent addictive chemical that poisons by inhalation, ingestion, eye contact, or skin absorption. Sounds downright raunchy when it’s broken down, eh? This chemical first stimulates the brain and then depresses it; smokers have a higher tolerance of the chemical because of the constant exposure to it, in which case death may come at a slower pace.

2. Hydrogen Sulphide: This deadly gas is created naturally wherever vegetable or animal matter becomes rotten; it can be found in manure pits and sewers. When inhaled, hydrogen sulphide reduces the body’s oxygen supply, which damages the cells in your nervous system as well as paralyzes your respiratory system. If there are high concentrations of the gas in the air, immediate coma may result, and in the worst-casescenario- death.

3. Cyanide: Considered to be a rare form of poisoning, cyanide toxicity should not be overlooked as it can be found in so many general work areas. It can be found in residential or industrial fires, metal trades, mining, jewelry manufacturing, electroplating, radiographic film recovery, fumigation of warehouses and ships, and health-care facilities and laboratories. Inhaling cyanide as a gas may result in immediate unconsciousness, convulsions, and death within fifteen minutes. The bitter-almond scent of cyanide is a telltale sign of the gas, but may not always be recognized.

4. Ammonia: This volatile compound may be helpful in cleaning some areas of your home, but it’s also capable of irritating the respiratory system and your mucous membranes. It will react with chlorinated products such as bleach in order to produce a deadly chloramine gas.

5. Mothballs: And you thought Grandma’s sweaters only looked deadly. The chemicals in mothballs, p-dichlorobenzene or naphthalene, are toxic and known to cause headaches, dizziness, and irritation to the skin, eyes, and respiratory system, which may create a need for involved respiratory care. Liver damage and/or cataract formation may also result after prolonged exposure.

Kristy Kravitsky is a 2011 State University graduate with a degree in English. She plans to make a career out of writing and traveling the world.