Death of a toddler due to ingestion of sulfuric acid at a clandestine home methamphetamine laboratory

Meredith Burge, John C. Hunsaker, Gregory J. Davis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Exposure to strong acids such as sulfuric acid to either the skin or the gastrointestinal or respiratory mucosa will result respectively in significant-occasionally fatal- cutaneous chemical burns as well as devastating corrosive damage to the respiratory and gastrointestinal tracts. Most injuries are accidental, but there are reports of using acids as weapons or as a means of suicide. The primary mechanism of acid injury is coagulative necrosis of the tissues. Sulfuric acid is a chemical often used in industrial and chemical laboratories, and it is an ingredient in household products like drain cleaner. Easily accessible, over-the-counter, household drain cleaner is one of several common materials used to manufacture methamphetamine. With increasing clandestine methamphetamine laboratories in the United States, exposure to methamphetamine and the toxic chemicals used for its production is a growing problem. In many instances, children living in these laboratories qua homes are at risk for injury and death. We report the death of an unattended toddler, who ingested sulfuric acid drain cleaner in his home. The gross and histopathological autopsy findings in this case are similar to those of previously described cases of sulfuric acid injury.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)298-301
Number of pages4
JournalForensic Science, Medicine, and Pathology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2009


  • Accident
  • Autopsy clandestine
  • Child abuse
  • Corrosive burns
  • Forensic science
  • Methamphetamine laboratory
  • Sulfuric acid injury

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine


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