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First Aid for Mineral Spirits Poisoning

Last updated March 1, 2018

Mineral Spirits Poisoning is the accidental or intentional intake of products containing Mineral Spirits.


What is Mineral Spirits Poisoning?

  • Mineral spirits are solvent chemicals derived from petroleum. It is a clear liquid that has the smell of kerosene and is highly-flammable. It is known in the United Kingdom as white spirit
  • The chemical is used in paint-thinners, as a solvent in dry cleaning and degreasing compounds (for machine tools), in printing inks, photocopier machine toners, and adhesives
  • Mineral Spirits Poisoning is the accidental or intentional intake of products containing Mineral Spirits
  • The condition is diagnosed based upon the clinical history, combination of signs and symptoms, and additional tests (that may include, in some cases, radiological studies and laboratory tests)

Mineral Spirits Poisoning may be also referred to as the following:

  • Mineral Spirits Toxicity
  • Mineral Turpentine Poisoning
  • Petroleum Spirits Poisoning
  • Solvent Naphtha (Petroleum) Poisoning
  • Turpentine Substitute Poisoning
  • White Spirit Poisoning

What are the Causes of Mineral Spirits Poisoning?

  • Mineral Spirits Poisoning is caused by the intake or inhalation of mineral spirits chemical compounds. The exposure may also occur following skin or eye contact
  • This intake could be accidental, or in some cases intentional, to bring self-harm
  • The chemicals present in mineral spirits may include several types of hydrocarbons and benzene. Any of these substances have the potential for severe toxicity

Note: The compound can interact with other prescribed or non-prescribed medications in the body. Such interactions may enhance the therapeutic effects of other medications being taken, resulting in undesired side effects.

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Mineral Spirits Poisoning?

The signs and symptoms of Mineral Spirits Poisoning can vary from one individual to another. It may be mild in some and severe in others. Several systems of the body may be affected

The signs and symptoms of Mineral Spirits Poisoning may include

  • Burning and pain in the throat and food-pipe; it may also involve the ears, eyes, nose, and mouth (lips, tongue)
  • Swelling of the mouth and tongue; unable to speak clearly
  • Severe respiratory difficulties due to breathing-in of the chemical compound
  • Severe skin burns may cause necrosis of the underlying tissue
  • Vision abnormalities and loss of vision
  • Severe pain in the stomach and abdomen
  • Nausea, vomiting (blood in vomit)
  • Blood in stool
  • Fever, headaches, and weakness
  • Sudden decrease in blood pressure (hypotension)
  • Increased heart rate
  • Loss of memory
  • Feeling dizzy, or nervous
  • Feeling of numbness in the limbs
  • Unable to walk properly; lack of coordinated movements
  • Low response level
  • Seizures
  • Collapse and/or unconsciousness

How is First Aid administered for Mineral Spirits Poisoning?

First Aid tips for Mineral Spirits Poisoning:

  • Call 911 or your local emergency help number for emergency assistance
  • Call the Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222 (or your local poison control center) for further instructions
  • Provide them with information such as the compound taken, quantity and time of ingestion, age, weight and general health status of affected individual
  • Carefully remove the individual from the exposure area; move them to region of fresh air immediately
  • Confirm that the airways are protected; also, ensure breathing and the presence of pulse
  • Unless instructed by a healthcare professional, DO NOT induce vomiting in the affected individual
  • Clean the mouth to remove any remaining compound; wipe mouth with a wet cloth
  • Following an ingestion of the substance, immediately give milk to drink
  • In case of symptoms that indicate difficulty in swallowing including vomiting or decreased alertness, do not give anything by way of mouth
  • If eye exposure has occurred, then wash the eye thoroughly with copious amounts of water (for about 15 minutes)
  • Take individual to emergency room (ER) for further treatment
  • Always try to take the compound bottle/container to the ER

The emergency medical health professional might perform the following steps towards treating the condition:

  • Medically manage symptoms and provide breathing support, if necessary
  • Wash skin and eyes repeatedly and thoroughly (irrigation), to eliminate any remaining hazardous compound; use soap and water
  • Following this, a suitable skin or eye ointment may be used to treat the exposure
  • Surgical treatment for skin burns including removal of burnt skin
  • Administer fluids by an intravenous drip line

Who should administer First Aid for Mineral Spirits Poisoning?

First aid for Mineral Spirits Poisoning is administered by healthcare professionals.

  • The individual who is affected, or someone near, should call 911 for emergency assistance (or the local emergency number)
  • They should also call the poison control center at 1-800-222-1222 (or the local poison control center) and follow instructions

What is the Prognosis of Mineral Spirits Poisoning?

  • The prognosis of Mineral Spirits Poisoning is dependent on the amount of substance consumed, time between consumption and treatment, severity of the symptoms, as well as general health status of the patient
  • If the individual can recover from the symptoms, with appropriate medication and prompt support, the outcome is better
  • Treatment delays may lead to complications including perforation of the throat or gastrointestinal tract. Due to this, bleeding and infection can additionally worsen the prognosis. In some individuals, damage to the internal organs may continue to take place for many weeks
  • In case of severe poisoning, there is a chance of lung damage that may be severe. Damage to the brain may become irreversible, if timely oxygen therapy is not administered. Deaths have been reported from Mineral Spirits Poisoning

In general, toxicities are common situations in the emergency departments. A majority of the cases are often not fatal, when appropriate treatment is given.

How can Mineral Spirits Poisoning be Prevented?

Mineral Spirits Poisoning can be prevented by:

  • Wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) is useful in protecting the lungs, eyes, mucous membranes, and skin
  • Keeping any poisonous/hazardous chemicals and other materials out of children’s reach
  • Ensure that industrial safety regulations for compound exposure is adhered to at workplaces
  • Keep all poisons correctly labeled and in suitable storage locations
  • Being aware of basic first aid steps in case of an emergency (such as inadvertent poisoning)

What are certain Crucial Steps to be followed?

  • Call 911 (or your local emergency number) for emergency assistance, if symptoms are life-threatening
  • Call Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222 (or the local poison control center) and follow the recommend steps
  • It would be helpful if the following information is readily available:
    • Type, amount and time of consumption of the substance
    • Age and weight of the individual
    • And, the overall health status of the individual

What are some Useful Resources for Additional Information?


References and Information Sources used for the Article:


Helpful Peer-Reviewed Medical Articles:


Reviewed and Approved by a member of the DoveMed Editorial Board
First uploaded: July 31, 2017
Last updated: March 1, 2018