Solder poisoning

Definition

Solder is used to connect electric wires or other metal parts together. Solder poisoning occurs when someone swallows solder in large amounts. Skin burns can occur if solder touches the skin.

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 the local emergency number (such as 911), or the local poison control 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

The substances in solder that can be harmful are:

Where Found

Solder contains these substances. It may also contain other harmful substances.

Symptoms

Symptoms for lead:

BLADDER AND KIDNEYS

EYES, EARS, NOSE, MOUTH, AND THROAT

STOMACH AND INTESTINES

HEART AND BLOOD

MUSCLES AND JOINTS

NERVOUS SYSTEM

SKIN

Symptoms for tin and zinc chloride:

BLADDER AND KIDNEYS

EYES, EARS, NOSE, MOUTH, AND THROAT

STOMACH AND INTESTINES

SKIN

Symptoms for ethylene glycol:

Symptoms for cadmium:

Symptoms for bismuth:

Symptoms for silver:

Symptoms for antimony:

Symptoms for copper:

Home Care

Get medical help right away. Do not make the person throw up unless poison control or a health care provider tells you to. If the solder is on the skin or in the eyes, flush with lots of water for at least 15 minutes.

If the solder was swallowed, give water to the person right away, unless instructed otherwise by a provider. Do not give water if the person is having symptoms (such as vomiting, seizures, or a decreased level of alertness) that make it hard to swallow.

Before Calling Emergency

Determine the following information:

Poison Control

Your local poison control 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 national hotline 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.

Tests that may be done include:

Treatment may include:

Outlook (Prognosis)

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

Outcomes depend on the type of poison swallowed:

Swallowing such poisons can have severe effects on many parts of the body. Burns in the airway or gastrointestinal tract can lead to tissue necrosis, resulting in infection, shock, and death even several months after the substance was first swallowed. Scars may form in these tissues leading to long-term difficulties with breathing, swallowing, and digestion.

References

Nelson ME. Toxic alcohols. In: Walls RM, Hockberger RS, Gausche-Hill M, eds. Rosen's Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018:chap 141.

Theobald JL, Mycyk MB. Iron and heavy metals. In: Walls RM, Hockberger RS, Gausche-Hill M, eds. Rosen's Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018:chap 151.


Review Date: 11/13/2021
Reviewed By: Jesse Borke, MD, CPE, FAAEM, FACEP, Attending Physician at Kaiser Permanente, Orange County, CA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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