Solder is a compound used to connect electric wires or other metal parts together. It can cause skin burns, or it can be extremely toxic if ingested in high amounts.

Poisonous Ingredient 

  • lead  
  • tin  
  • zinc  
  • mild acids  
  • ethylene glycol

Where Found 

  • solder

Note: This list may not be all inclusive.

For acids found in solders:

  • burns of mouth and throat

For lead:

  • body as a whole       o metallic taste       o skin paleness       o tremor       o twitching       o Convulsions       o paralysis       o muscle aches       o fatigue       o weakness       o Joint pain       o excessive thirst       o incoordination  
  • eyes, ears, nose, and throat       o jaundice (eyes appear yellow)       o vision abnormalities  
  • skin       o yellow skin  
  • gastrointestinal       o loss of appetite       o Weight loss       o Constipation       o Vomiting       o diarrhea       o Abdominal pain  
  • heart and blood vessels       o Low Blood pressure       o High blood pressure  
  • nervous system       o easily excitable       o coma       o hallucinations       o lack of desire to do anything       o irritable       o uncooperative       o headache       o sleeping difficulty       o confusion

For tin and zinc chloride:

  • body as a whole       o burns in the mouth and throat       o Convulsions       o collapse       o blood in urine       o decreased urine output       o no urine output  
  • eyes, ears, nose, and throat       o jaundice (eyes appear yellow)  
  • skin       o yellow skin  
  • gastrointestinal       o Vomiting       o diarrhea

For ethylene glycol:

  • the amount of ethylene glycol in solder is small, but the substance is extremely toxic  
  • renal       o kidney failure  
  • blood       o extreme disturbances in blood pH which can lead to multi-organ failure and death.

Home Treatment 
Wash from skin or eyes. For any ingestion, seek emergency medical care immediately. Do not induce Vomiting.

Before Calling Emergency 
Determine the following information:

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

Poison Control, or a local emergency number 
See Poison Control centers. Bring the poison container with you to the emergency room.

What to expect at the emergency room 

  • For swallowed poison       o Immediate Hemodialysis may be required for survival       o Placement of a tube down the nose and into the stomach (a nasogastric tube, or an NG tube) to wash out the stomach       o Activated charcoal administration       o Endoscopy - the placement of a camera down the throat to see the extent of burns to the esophagus and the stomach       o Give IV fluids       o Admission to the hospital       o Give an antidote       o Treat the symptoms  
  • For inhaled poisons       o A breathing tube may need to be inserted       o Oxygen       o Admission to the hospital or to the intensive care unit       o Bronchoscopy (inserting a camera down the throat into the airway to evaluate the extent of burns to the airway and lungs)  
  • For skin exposure       o Irrigation (washing of the skin), perhaps every few hours for several days       o Skin debridement (surgical removal of burned skin)       o Admission or transfer to a hospital that specializes in burn care

Expectations (prognosis) 

  • for lead       o Complete recovery takes a year or more.       o Many who do not die may suffer permanent brain damage.  
  • for tin and zinc       o If the amount of zinc or tin is low, recovery should be within approximately 6 hours.  
  • for the acids       o The length and extent of recovery depends on the extent of tissue damage that has occurred.  
  • for ethylene glycol       o Ethylene glycol is extremely toxic. Survival and prognosis depend on the amount ingested and time to treatment.

Johns Hopkins patient information

Last revised: December 3, 2012
by Levon Ter-Markosyan, D.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.