Combination alkali/thermal burns caused by 'black liquor' in the pulp and paper industry.


Three patients are presented, who sustained a unique type of burn injury while working in the pulp and paper industry in Canada. These patients suffered combination chemical (pH 11-13) and thermal (85-95 degrees C) injuries, when they were exposed to 'black liquor'--a solution which is used in the pulp and paper industry to convert wood chips to pulp. Black liquor can rapidly cause devastating thermal-corrosive burns to the skin, eyes, lungs, and upper gastrointestinal tract. One patient sustained a relatively minor, full skin thickness 3 per cent body surface area (BSA) injury to both feet and lower legs. The second patient, who was sprayed with the heated black liquor solution, sustained a full skin thickness injury to 40 per cent BSA and also suffered virtual loss of vision in one eye. The third patient, who was also sprayed with the solution, sustained a 98 per cent full skin thickness burn and severe inhalation injury, and died during day 1 postburn. Photographic documentation of all three patients is presented. The principles of treatment of this type of burn injury are reviewed. All of these burns were preventable.

Cite this paper

@article{Winemaker1992CombinationAB, title={Combination alkali/thermal burns caused by 'black liquor' in the pulp and paper industry.}, author={Mitchell J Winemaker and Lloyd Douglas and Wilma J. Peters}, journal={Burns : journal of the International Society for Burn Injuries}, year={1992}, volume={18 1}, pages={68-70} }