Hazmat is a topic covered in the 5-Minute Emergency Consult.

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  • Hazmat refers to exposure to hazardous materials causing local or systemic toxicity.
  • Pathophysiology:
    • Acids cause coagulation necrosis with eschar, usually limiting penetration to deeper tissue.
    • Alkalis cause liquefaction necrosis and soluble complexes that penetrate into deep tissues.
    • Damage also occurs through oxidation, protein denaturation, cellular dehydration, local ischemia, and by metabolic competition/inhibition.


  • Hazardous materials are encountered in household, industry, agriculture, transportation accidents, and in criminal/terrorist activities.
  • The toxicity of the materials relates to the particular substances and their effects.

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