Lacquer poisoning

Definition

Lacquer is a clear or colored coating (called a varnish) that is often used to give wooden surfaces a glossy look. Lacquer is dangerous to swallow. Breathing in the fumes for a long period is also harmful.

This article is for information only. DO NOT use it to treat or manage an actual poison exposure. If you or someone you are with has an exposure, call your local emergency number (such as 911), or your local poison center can be reached directly by calling the national toll-free Poison Help hotline (1-800-222-1222) from anywhere in the United States.

Poisonous Ingredient

Poisoning from lacquers is due to hydrocarbons, which are substances that contain only hydrogen and carbon.

Where Found

Lacquers are products that are used as a clear finish for wooden surfaces, particularly floors. They are sold under various brand names.

Symptoms

Lacquer poisoning can cause symptoms in many parts of the body.

AIRWAYS AND LUNGS

BLADDER AND KIDNEYS

EYES, EARS, NOSE, AND THROAT

STOMACH AND INTESTINES

HEART AND BLOOD

NERVOUS SYSTEM

SKIN

Home Care

Get medical help right away. DO NOT make a person throw up unless told to do so by poison control or a health care provider.

If the chemical was swallowed, immediately give the person water, unless instructed otherwise by a provider.

If the person breathed in the poison, immediately move them to fresh air.

Before Calling Emergency

Get the following information:

Poison Control

Your local poison center can be reached directly by calling the national toll-free Poison Help hotline (1-800-222-1222) from anywhere in the United States. This 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.

What to Expect at the Emergency Room

Take the container with you to the hospital, if possible.

The provider will measure and monitor the person's vital signs, including temperature, pulse, breathing rate, and blood pressure. Symptoms will be treated as appropriate. The person may receive:

Outlook (Prognosis)

How well a person does depends on the amount of poison swallowed and how quickly treatment was received. The faster a person gets medical help, the better the chance for recovery.

Extensive damage to the mouth, throat, and stomach are possible. The ultimate outcome depends on the extent of this damage. Damage can continue to occur for several weeks after the poison was swallowed. Death may occur as long as a month after the poison was swallowed.

Prolonged exposure to lacquer fumes can cause serious, long-term problems.


Review Date: 10/16/2017
Reviewed By: Jesse Borke, MD, FACEP, FAAEM, Attending Physician at FDR Medical Services/Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital, Buffalo, NY. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

This information should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. © 1997- 2007 A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.