Glazes are products that add a shiny or glossy coating to a surface. Glaze poisoning occurs when someone swallows these substances.
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 your local emergency number (such as 911), or your local poison center can be reached directly by calling the national toll-free Poison Help hotline (1-800-222-1222) from anywhere in the United States.
The harmful substances in glaze are:
- Hydrocarbons (including basalt, borax frit, and zinc oxide)
Various glazes contain these substances, including paints and ceramic glazes.
Other types of glazes also contain these substances.
Below are symptoms of glaze poisoning in different parts of the body.
EYES, EARS, NOSE, AND THROAT
KIDNEYS AND BLADDER
- Decreased urine output
- Kidney damage
STOMACH AND INTESTINES
- Abdominal pain
- Increased thirst
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
HEART AND BLOOD
MUSCLES AND JOINTS
- Joint pain
- Muscle soreness
- Coma (decreased level of consciousness and lack of responsiveness)
- Easily excitable
- Inability to sleep
- Lack of desire to do anything
- Being uncooperative
- Uncoordinated movements
- Hearing loss
- Pale skin
- Yellow skin
Note: These symptoms generally occur only in repeated poisonings over a long period of time.
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 glaze is on the skin or in the eyes, flush with lots of water for at least 15 minutes.
If the person swallowed the glaze, give them water or milk right away, if a provider tells you to do so. Do NOT give anything to drink if the person has symptoms that make it hard to swallow. These include vomiting, convulsions, or a decreased level of alertness. If the person breathed in glaze fumes, move them to fresh air right away.
Before Calling Emergency
Have this information ready:
- Person's age, weight, and condition
- Name of the product (and ingredients, if known)
- Time it was swallowed
- Amount swallowed
Your local poison 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 number 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. Symptoms will be treated.
The person may receive:
- Activated charcoal
- Breathing support, including tube through the mouth into the lungs, and breathing machine (ventilator)
- Bronchoscopy: camera down the throat to see burns in the airways and lungs
- Chest x-ray
- EKG (electrocardiogram or heart tracing)
- Endoscopy: camera down the throat to see burns in the esophagus and the stomach
- Fluids through a vein (IV)
- Medicine called an antidote to reverse the effect of the poison
- Tube through the mouth into the stomach to wash out the stomach (gastric lavage)
- Surgery to remove burned skin
- Washing of the skin (irrigation), perhaps every few hours for several days
How well someone does depends on how severe their poisoning is and how quickly they receive treatment. The faster medical help is given, the better the chance for recovery. Damage can continue to occur for several weeks after swallowing glaze. Permanent brain damage may occur.
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Sue YJ, Pinkert H. Baby powder, borates, and camphor. In: Shannon MW, Borron SW, Burns MJ, eds. Haddad and Winchester's Clinical Management of Poisoning and Drug Overdose. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2007:chap 99.
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Update Date 11/4/2015
Updated by: Jesse Borke, MD, FACEP, FAAEM, Attending Physician at FDR Medical Services/Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital, Buffalo, NY. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.