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Hazmat, Emergency Medicine

Reviewed 06/2017



  • Hazmat refers to exposure to hazardous materials causing local or systemic toxicity.

  • Pathophysiology:

    • Acids cause coagulation necrosis with eschar, usually limiting penetration to deep...


Signs and Symptoms

  • Skin:

    • Chemical burns; may appear deceptively mild initially

    • Visible liquid or powder on skin

    • Absorption through skin may cause systemic toxicity.

  • Mucous membranes (eyes, nasoph...



  • Recognize a HAZMAT situation:

    • Accident at industrial/agricultural site

    • Accident involving transport of hazardous materials

    • Suspected terrorist mass casualty incident

    • Cholinergic synd...



Admission Criteria

  • Airway compromise, respiratory difficulty (hypoxia)

  • Significant systemic symptoms

  • Admit patients with chemical burns to burn center.

Discharge Criteria

  • Patients who ...

Pearls and Pitfalls

  • Decontaminate stable victims on site when possible.

  • Protect medical providers (pre-hospital and ED) with appropriate personal protective equipment.

  • Provide specific antidotes for exp...

Additional Reading

  • Clarke  SF, Chilcott  RP, Wilson  JC, et al. Decontamination of multiple casualties who are chemically contaminated: A challenge for acute hospitals. Prehosp Disast Med.  2008;...



  • V87.09 Contact with and (suspected) exposure to other hazardous metals

  • V87.2 Contact with and (suspected) exposure to other potentially hazardous chemicals

  • V87.39 Contact with and (suspected) ...

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