Skip to Main Content

++

High-Yield Facts

++

  • The primary concern after hydrocarbon ingestion is pulmonary toxicity.

  • Viscosity, surface tension, and volatility are three important properties to assess the toxicity of liquid hydrocarbons.

  • Coughing, gagging, chocking, and vomiting after hydrocarbon ingestion are presumptive of aspiration.

++

Introduction

++

The term hydrocarbon is used to describe a large number of organic molecules that contain mostly hydrogen and carbon atoms. Hydrocarbons are primarily derived from petroleum distillates but may also be derived from other sources such as plants, animal fats, and natural gas. Hydrocarbon-containing products are pervasive in daily life (Table 126-1).

++
Table Graphic Jump Location
TABLE 126-1   Common Hydrocarbon Products 
++

In 2011, the National Poison Data System reported nearly 1700 pediatric hydrocarbon exposures in the United States.1 The majority of those exposures were unintentional. The most common exposures reported were gasoline, kerosene, lamp oils, lighter fluids, and lubricating and motor oils. Young children tend to have accidental exposures; adolescent exposures tend to represent the abuse of volatile hydrocarbons or suicidal attempts. Fortunately, deaths from hydrocarbon exposures are rare.

++

Classification and Properties

++

There are two basic types of hydrocarbon molecules. The aliphatic compounds consist of a branched or straight chain structure; the cyclic hydrocarbons consist of a closed ring. Each of these basic types have many subtypes, all with varying characteristics such as hydrogen or carbonsubstitutions, the presence of one or more double covalent bond and multi-ring structures.

++

The length of the hydrocarbon chain affects the chemical properties of the molecule. Short-chain molecules, such as butane, are gases at room temperature. Intermediate length chains, which encompass the majority of chemical exposures, are liquids at room temperature. The long-chain hydrocarbons, such as paraffin and tar, are solids at room temperatures.

++

Viscosity, surface tension, and volatility are three important physical properties used to assess the toxicity of liquid hydrocarbons. Viscosity is the measurement of a liquid's resistance to flow. Volatility describes the tendency of a liquid to become a gas. Surface tension describes the property of adherence of a liquid compound along a surface. These three properties are used to assess the risk of pulmonary toxicity from a hydrocarbon ingestion.

++

Pathophysiology

++

Pulmonary toxicity is the primary concern after hydrocarbon ingestions. The exact pathogenesis of hydrocarbon-induced pulmonary toxicity is debated in the literature; however, aspiration of hydrocarbons can lead to direct injury of lung tissue.2,3 The viscosity, surface tension, and volatility of hydrocarbons determine the risk of aspiration during an ingestion. Compounds with low viscosity, low surface tension, and high volatility have a higher risk of aspiration and subsequent pulmonary toxicity.

+...

Want remote access to your institution's subscription?

Sign in to your MyAccess profile while you are actively authenticated on this site via your institution (you will be able to verify this by looking at the top right corner of the screen - if you see your institution's name, you are authenticated). Once logged in to your MyAccess profile, you will be able to access your institution's subscription for 90 days from any location. You must be logged in while authenticated at least once every 90 days to maintain this remote access.

Ok

About MyAccess

If your institution subscribes to this resource, and you don't have a MyAccess profile, please contact your library's reference desk for information on how to gain access to this resource from off-campus.

Subscription Options

AccessPediatrics Full Site: One-Year Subscription

Connect to the full suite of AccessPediatrics content and resources including 20+ textbooks such as Rudolph’s Pediatrics and The Pediatric Practice series, high-quality procedural videos, images, and animations, interactive board review, an integrated pediatric drug database, and more.

$595 USD
Buy Now

Pay Per View: Timed Access to all of AccessPediatrics

24 Hour Subscription $34.95

Buy Now

48 Hour Subscription $54.95

Buy Now

Pop-up div Successfully Displayed

This div only appears when the trigger link is hovered over. Otherwise it is hidden from view.