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First Aid for Tar Remover Poisoning

Last updated March 2, 2018

Approved by: Maulik P. Purohit MD, MPH

Tar remover is a heavy-duty chemical cleaner that is used to remove tar/bitumen, a black and highly-viscous petroleum product. Tar Remover Poisoning is the accidental or intentional intake of products containing tar remover.

What is Tar Remover Poisoning?

  • Tar remover is a heavy-duty chemical cleaner that is used to remove tar/bitumen, a black and highly-viscous petroleum product
  • The compound may be also used to remove grease, asphalt, and certain types of vehicular oil stains
  • Tar Remover Poisoning is the accidental or intentional intake of products containing tar remover
  • 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)

Tar Remover Poisoning may be also referred to as the following:

  • Asphalt Remover Poisoning
  • Bitumen Remover Poisoning
  • Tar Remover Toxicity

What are the Causes of Tar Remover Poisoning?

  • Tar Remover Poisoning is caused by the intake of tar remover 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 components of tar remover may include a complex mix of solvents (isopropanol, butyl glycol, methylene chloride, benzene), xylene and toluene, surfactants, light aromatic compounds, etc. 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 Tar Remover Poisoning?

The signs and symptoms of Tar Remover 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 Tar Remover 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 skin burns may cause necrosis of the underlying tissue
  • Vision abnormalities and vision loss
  • Severe pain in the stomach and abdomen
  • Nausea, vomiting (blood in vomit)
  • Blood in stool
  • Headaches
  • Decrease in blood pressure (hypotension)
  • Feeling dizzy, disoriented, or agitated
  • Individuals may act ‘drunk’
  • Unable to walk properly; lack of coordinated movements
  • Low response level
  • Depression and weakness
  • Seizures
  • Collapse

How is First Aid administered for Tar Remover Poisoning?

First Aid tips for Tar Remover 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:

  • Gastric lavage for elimination of the substance from the stomach (irrigation using special solutions)
  • Medically manage symptoms and provide breathing support, if necessary
  • Wash skin and eyes repeatedly and thoroughly (irrigation), to eliminate any remaining hazardous compound
  • 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 Tar Remover Poisoning?

First aid for Tar Remover 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 Tar Remover Poisoning?

  • The prognosis of Tar Remover Poisoning is dependent on the amount consumed, time between overdose 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
  • Tar removers can cause severe skin burns or eye injuries. In such cases, the outcome is dependent upon the extent of damage and access to prompt treatment. Eye injuries may result in corneal scars leading to blindness

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 Tar Remover Poisoning be Prevented?

Tar Remover 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: Aug. 7, 2017
Last updated: March 2, 2018