Acute Health Effect Definition

What Exactly Is an Acute Health Effect?

Mixing two chemicals in a test tube

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An acute health effect is the effect caused by the initial exposure of a hazardous chemical on a human or animal body. When a hazardous material's acute health effect is listed, the effects are generally severe and dangerous adverse effects, but subside after the exposure stops.

In contrast, chronic health effects persist following exposure, even if the exposure stops.

Acute health effects typically appear immediately or shortly after exposure and occur after relatively high exposure to a hazardous substance.

Examples of Acute Health Effects

Common examples of acute health effects include:

  • Allergic reactions (including anaphylactic shock)
  • Irritation
  • Rashes or dry skin
  • Burns
  • Dermatitis
  • Metal fume fever
  • Lethal Concentration (LC)
  • LC50
  • Hearing loss

Note dermatitis may also occur as a chronic health effect.

Lethal concentration is the amount of a substance that is immediately dangerous to life and may cause death. LC50 is the concentration of a substance that causes death to one half or 50% of test subjects.