Ethylene Oxide

CAS RN: 75-21-8

Treatment Overview

  • A) EMESIS - Oral exposure to ethylene oxide is unusual. Because of the volatility of the liquid, and the extreme reactivity of ethylene oxide, it is questionable whether emesis would be of value. Activated charcoal may be of more benefit.
  • B) ACTIVATED CHARCOAL: Administer charcoal as a slurry (240 mL water/30 g charcoal). Usual dose: 25 to 100 g in adults/adolescents, 25 to 50 g in children (1 to 12 years), and 1 g/kg in infants less than 1 year old.
  • C) CATHARTIC - Ethylene oxide is irritating and probably serves as its own cathartic.
  • A) INHALATION: Move patient to fresh air. Monitor for respiratory distress. If cough or difficulty breathing develops, evaluate for respiratory tract irritation, bronchitis, or pneumonitis. Administer oxygen and assist ventilation as required. Treat bronchospasm with an inhaled beta2-adrenergic agonist. Consider systemic corticosteroids in patients with significant bronchospasm.
  • B) Clothing should be removed and washed thoroughly.
  • C) TREATMENT - If significant amounts of ethylene oxide have been inhaled, immediate hospitalization and observation for 72 hours are recommended. There may be delayed onset of pulmonary edema.
  • D) ACUTE LUNG INJURY: Maintain ventilation and oxygenation and evaluate with frequent arterial blood gases and/or pulse oximetry monitoring. Early use of PEEP and mechanical ventilation may be needed.
  • A) DECONTAMINATION: Remove contact lenses and irrigate exposed eyes with copious amounts of room temperature 0.9% saline or water for at least 15 minutes. If irritation, pain, swelling, lacrimation, or photophobia persist after 15 minutes of irrigation, the patient should be seen in a healthcare facility.
    • 1) DECONTAMINATION - If liquid is spilled on the skin, allow ethylene oxide to vaporize before washing with water. Dermal exposure should be washed with water, from a hose or shower. A physician should examine the exposed area if irritation or pain persists after the area is washed.
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