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ACUTE EXPOSURE INFORMATION
- USES: Sulfuric acid is used in manufacturing and industry. It is also used in some household toilet bowel cleaners and is used in batteries.
- EPIDEMIOLOGY: Ingestion exposures are uncommon in the US, but common in other parts of the world. Inadvertent dermal and inhalation exposures rarely result in severe injury. Deliberate ingestion, particularly of high concentration products, may cause severe injury and death.
- TOXICOLOGY: Sulfuric acid is a strong acid that causes tissue injury and coagulation of proteins. The severity of injury is determined by the concentration and duration of contact.
- WITH POISONING/EXPOSURE
- MILD TO MODERATE TOXICITY: Milder exposures (generally to concentrations less than 10%) may only cause irritation of the skin, upper airway and GI mucosa.
- SEVERE TOXICITY: SUMMARY: Sulfuric acid is corrosive to the skin, eyes, nose, mucous membranes, respiratory tract and gastrointestinal tract, or any tissue with which it comes in contact.
- INHALATION: Respiratory effects of acute exposure include irritation of the nose and throat, coughing, sneezing, reflex bronchospasm, dyspnea and pulmonary edema. Death may occur from sudden circulatory collapse, glottic edema and airway compromise, or from acute lung injury.
- INGESTION: Ingestion of sulfuric acid may cause immediate epigastric pain, nausea, hypersalivation and vomiting of mucoid or "coffee ground" hemorrhagic material. Occasionally vomiting of fresh blood has been seen. Ingestion of concentrated sulfuric acid may produce esophageal corrosion, necrosis and perforation of the esophagus or stomach especially at the pylorus. Occasionally injury to the small bowel has been reported. Delayed complications may include strictures and fistula formation. Metabolic acidosis may develop following ingestion.
- DERMAL: Severe dermal burns can occur with necrosis and scarring. These may be fatal if a large enough area of the body surface is affected.
- OCULAR: The eye is especially sensitive to corrosive injury. Irritation, lacrimation and conjunctivitis can develop even with low concentrations of sulfuric acid. Splash contact with high concentrations causes corneal burns, visual loss and occasionally perforation of the globe.
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