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Pine oil poisoning

Pine oil is a germ-killer and disinfectant. This article discusses poisoning from swallowing pine oil.

This is for information only and not for use in the treatment or management of an actual poison exposure. If you have an exposure, you should call your local emergency number (such as 911) or the National Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222.

Poisonous Ingredient

Pine oil (terpenes)

Where Found

  • Various cleaning products
  • Some porcelain cleaners


Eyes, ears, nose, and throat:

  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Throat burning
  • Eye burning


  • Breathing trouble


Heart and blood circulation:

Nervous system:

  • Coma
  • Confusion
  • Depression
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Irritability
  • Light-headedness
  • Nervousness
  • Stupor (decreased level of consciousness)
  • Unconsciousness

Home Care

Seek immediate medical help. Do NOT make a person throw up unless you are told to do so by a doctor or poison control.

Before Calling Emergency

Determine the following information:

  • The person's age, weight, and condition
  • Name of product (as well as the ingredients and strength, if known)
  • The time it was swallowed
  • The amount swallowed

Poison Control

The National Poison Control Center (1-800-222-1222) can be called 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.

Take the container with you to the hospital, if possible.

See: Poison control center - emergency number

What to Expect at the Emergency Room

The health care provider will measure and monitor the person's vital signs, including temperature, pulse, breathing rate, and blood pressure. Blood and urine tests will be done. The person may receive:

  • Airway and breathing support, including oxygen. In extreme cases, a tube may be passed through the mouth into the lungs to prevent aspiration.
  • Chest x-ray
  • EKG (electrocardiogram, or heart tracing)
  • Endoscopy -- a camera down the throat to see burns in the esophagus and stomach
  • Fluids through a vein (by IV)
  • Laxatives to move the poison quickly through the body
  • Medicines to treat symptoms
  • Surgical removal of burned skin (skin debridement)
  • Tube through the mouth into the stomach to wash out the stomach (gastric lavage)
  • Washing of the skin (irrigation), perhaps every few hours for several days

Outlook (Prognosis)

How well a person does depends on the amount of poison swallowed and how quickly treatment was received. Swallowing pine oil can have severe effects on many parts of the body. Usually the biggest problem is that pine oil is swallowed (aspirated) into the lungs instead of the stomach, causing breathing problems.

The faster a person gets medical help, the better the chance for recovery.


Kulig K. General approach to the poisoned patient. In: Marx J, ed. Rosen's Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Mosby; 2013:chap 147.

Lee DC. Hydrocarbons. In: Marx J, ed. Rosen's Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Mosby; 2013:chap 158.

Update Date 11/2/2014