Toxicity of alkaline solutions

Ellen M. Vancura, Joseph E Clinton, Ernest Ruiz, Edward P. Krenzelok

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations


We examined the question of what determines the toxicity of alkaline solutions - pH, viscosity, or other factors. Our experiments have identified pH measurement as the simplest and most easily measured parameter for determining initial management of caustic ingestions. Viscosity is not a clinically useful measurement. The closer to 14 the pH measures, the more destructive the caustic. Non-lye solutions known to cause esophageal ulceration have a pH of 12.5 to 13.5. Most cases of deep ulceration going on to stricture formation involve lye solutions of pH 14. The critical pH that causes esophageal ulceration is 12.5, and thus a patient ingesting a substance with a pH greater than 12 should be followed closely for the possibility of esophageal ulceration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)118-122
Number of pages5
JournalAnnals of Emergency Medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1980

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
From the Department of Emergency Medicine, Hennepin .County Medical Center,* and the University of Minnesota College of Pharmacy,f Minneapolis, Minnesota. Presented at the University Association for Emergency Medicine Annual Meeting, Orlando, Florida, May 1979. This study was supported in part by PHS Grant 1416043690A3. Address for reprints: Joseph E. Clinton, MD, Department of Emergency Medicine, Hennepin County Medical Center, 701 Park Avenue South, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55415.


  • burns, chemical caustics
  • ingestion, caustics
  • toxicity, alkaline


Dive into the research topics of 'Toxicity of alkaline solutions'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this