Paints - oil type

Poisoning from an ingestion of oil-based paint.

Poisonous Ingredient 

Hydrocarbons are the primary poisonous ingredient in oil paints.
Some oil paints have heavy metals such as lead, mercury, cobalt, and barium added as pigment. These heavy metals can cause additional toxicity if consumed in sufficient quantities.

Where Found 

Various oil-based paints


  • Respiratory       o Cough       o Shallow breathing - may also be rapid or slow  
  • Eyes, ears, nose, and throat       o Difficulty swallowing       o Eye and nose irritation  
  • Gastrointestinal       o Abdominal pain       o diarrhea       o nausea and/or Vomiting  
  • Rapid heartbeat  
  • Nervous system       o headache       o Visual changes       o Light-headedness       o Nervousness       o Dizziness       o Depression       o Irritation       o Confusion       o Stupor       o Unconsciousness       o Coma

Home Treatment 

Call Poison Control:.1-800-222-1222.


If the patient is conscious give a small amount of fluid (milk or water) to stop irritation and burning of mouth and throat.

Before Calling Emergency 
Determine the following information:

  • The patient’s age, weight, and condition  
  • The name of product (as well as the ingredients and strength if known)  
  • The time it was swallowed  
  • The amount swallowed

Poison Control, or a local emergency number 

The Poison Control or local emergency telephone representative will instruct you if it is necessary to take the patient to the hospital. The national Poison Control hotline can be reached at 1-800-222-1222.
Take the container with you to the emergency room.

What to expect at the emergency room 
Some or all of the following procedures may be performed:

  • Gastric lavage (Will generally be done only in cases in which the paint contains toxic additives swallowed in significant amounts)  
  • Administration of activated charcoal  
  • Administration of a laxative  
  • Administration of fluids  
  • Treatment of symptoms

Expectations (prognosis) 
Survival past 48 hours is usually a good sign that recovery will occur. If any damage to the kidneys or lungs has occurred, it may take several months to heal.

Johns Hopkins patient information

Last revised: December 7, 2012
by Sharon M. Smith, M.D.

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All ArmMed Media material is provided for information only and is neither advice nor a substitute for proper medical care. Consult a qualified healthcare professional who understands your particular history for individual concerns.