Navigate Up

Full Library - A-Z Index


Print This Page

Solder poisoning

Solder is used to connect electric wires or other metal parts together. Solder poisoning occurs when someone swallows solder in large amounts. It can also cause burns to the skin.

This is for information only and not for use in the treatment or management of an actual poison exposure. If you have an exposure, you should call your local emergency number (such as 911) or the National Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222.

Poisonous Ingredient

  • Antimony
  • Bismuth
  • Cadmium
  • Copper
  • Ethylene glycol
  • Lead
  • Mild acids
  • Silver
  • Tin
  • Zinc

Where Found

  • Solder

Note: This list may not include all sources of solder.

Symptoms

Symptoms for lead:

Symptoms for tin and zinc chloride:

  • Bladder and kidneys
    • Decreased urine output
    • No urine output
  • Eyes, ears, nose, mouth, and throat
    • Burns in mouth and throat
    • Yellow eyes (jaundice)
  • Gastrointestinal
    • Diarrhea
    • Vomiting
  • Skin
    • Yellow skin

Symptoms for ethylene glycol:

  • Disturbance in the acid balance of the blood (can lead to failure of many organs)
  • Kidney failure

Symptoms for cadmium:

  • Kidney damage
  • Reduced brain function or intelligence
  • Reduced lung function
  • Softening of the bones and kidney failure (itai-itai disease)

Symptoms for bismuth:

  • Diarrhea
  • Eye irritation
  • Kidney damage
  • Metallic taste
  • Skin irritation

Symptoms for silver:

  • Greyish-black staining of the skin and mucus membranes (argyria)
  • Silver deposits in the eyes (argyrosis)

Symptoms for antimony:

  • Chemical burns
  • Depression
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Irritation of mucous membranes
  • Stomach problems

Symptoms for copper:

  • Fever

Home Treatment

Seek immediate medical help. Do NOT make a person throw up unless told to do so by poison control or a health care professional.

If the chemical is on the skin or in the eyes, flush with lots of water for at least 15 minutes.

If the chemical was swallowed, immediately give the person water, unless instructed otherwise by a health care provider. Do NOT give water if the patient is having symptoms (such as vomiting, convulsions, or a decreased level of alertness) that make it hard to swallow.

Before Calling Emergency

Determine the following information:

  • Patient's age, weight, and condition
  • Name of the product (ingredients and strengths, if known)
  • Time it was swallowed
  • Amount swallowed

Poison Control, or a local emergency number

The National Poison Control Center (1-800-222-1222) can be called from anywhere in the United States. This national hotline number will let you talk to experts in poisoning. They will give you further instructions.

This is a free and confidential service. All local poison control centers in the United States use this national number. You should call if you have any questions about poisoning or poison prevention. It does NOT need to be an emergency. You can call for any reason, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

See: Poison control center - emergency number

What to expect at the emergency room

The health care provider will measure and monitor your vital signs, including temperature, pulse, breathing rate, and blood pressure. Symptoms will be treated as appropriate. You may receive:

  • Activated charcoal
  • Breathing tube
  • Bronchoscopy -- camera down the throat to see burns in the airways and lungs
  • Dialysis
  • Endoscopy -- camera down the throat to see burns in the esophagus and the stomach
  • Fluids by IV
  • Medicine (antidote) to reverse the effect of the poison
  • Oxygen
  • Surgical removal of burned skin (skin debridement)
  • Tube through the mouth into the stomach to wash out the stomach (gastric lavage )
  • Washing of the skin (irrigation) -- perhaps every few hours for several days

Expectations (prognosis)

How well you do depends on the amount of poison swallowed and how quickly treatment is received. The faster you get medical help, the better the chance for recovery.

Outcomes depend on the type of poison swallowed:

  • Ethylene glycol is extremely poisonous.
  • Complete recovery from lead poisoning takes a year or more. It may cause permanent brain damage.
  • If the amount of zinc or tin swallowed is low, recovery should occur within approximately 6 hours.
  • Skin color changes due to silver poisoning are permanent.
  • Long-term poisoning with antimony and cadmium may lead to lung cancer.
  • Recovery from acid poisoning depends on how much tissue has been damaged.

References

Jacobsen D, Hovda KE. Methanol, ethylene glycol, and other toxic alcohols. In: Shannon MW, Borron SW, Burns MJ, eds. Haddad and Winchester's Clinical Management of Poisoning and Drug Overdose. 4th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007:chap 32.

Hall AH, Shannon MW. Other heavy metals. In: Shannon MW, Borron SW, Burns MJ, eds. Haddad and Winchester's Clinical Management of Poisoning and Drug Overdose. 4th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007:chap 75.

Updated: 2/28/2012

Eric Perez, MD, St. Luke's / Roosevelt Hospital Center, NY, NY, and Pegasus Emergency Group (Meadowlands and Hunterdon Medical Centers), NJ. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.


©  UPMC | Affiliated with the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences
Supplemental content provided by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions. All rights reserved.

For help in finding a doctor or health service that suits your needs, call the UPMC Referral Service at 412-647-UPMC (8762) or 1-800-533-UPMC (8762). Select option 1.

UPMC is an equal opportunity employer. UPMC policy prohibits discrimination or harassment on the basis of race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, age, sex, genetics, sexual orientation, marital status, familial status, disability, veteran status, or any other legally protected group status. Further, UPMC will continue to support and promote equal employment opportunity, human dignity, and racial, ethnic, and cultural diversity. This policy applies to admissions, employment, and access to and treatment in UPMC programs and activities. This commitment is made by UPMC in accordance with federal, state, and/or local laws and regulations.

Medical information made available on UPMC.com is not intended to be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should not rely entirely on this information for your health care needs. Ask your own doctor or health care provider any specific medical questions that you have. Further, UPMC.com is not a tool to be used in the case of an emergency. If an emergency arises, you should seek appropriate emergency medical services.

For UPMC Mercy Patients: As a Catholic hospital, UPMC Mercy abides by the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services, as determined by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. As such, UPMC Mercy neither endorses nor provides medical practices and/or procedures that contradict the moral teachings of the Roman Catholic Church.

© UPMC
Pittsburgh, PA, USA UPMC.com