Hot bitumen burns: 92 Hospitalized patients

Abe M. Baruchin, S. Schraf, L. Rosenberg, A. A. Sagi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Bitumen burns while comprising a small percentage of all types of burns are toublesome. They affect persons engaged in gainful employment which the burns then curtail, as well as requiring special attention because the substance adheres to the skin and is therefore difficult to remove. Ninety-two consecutive patients with such burns who were admitted as in-patients over a 10-year period (1985-1995) have been reviewed. Most of the burns occurred on a worksite and involved active young persons (mean age 29.6 years) the mean size of the burn was 3.87 per cent TBSA, mainly affecting the upper extremities and hands. Mean hospitalization time was 10.6 days. Bitumen burns are fully predictable and can easily be prevented by avoiding unsafe practice and/or equipment. Bitumen is a general term for petroleum-derived substances ranging from true petroleum through so-called mineral tars, to asphalt. Asphalt (Asphaltum) is a semi-solid mixure of several hydrocarbons probably formed by the evaporation of the lighter or more volatile constituents. It is amorphous of low specific gravity, 1-2, with a black or brownish black colour and pitchy lustre. At room temperature it is solid becoming molten and spreadable when heated to 93°C and over. Roofing tars and asphalts are usually heated to temperatures of 232°C to achieve desirable viscosities (e.g. for spraying), whereas lower temperatures are required for the manageable form to pave roads. Notable localities for asphaltum are the island of Trinidad and the Dead Sea region where lake asphaltums were long known to the ancient. Ironically, none of the 92 patients who were treated for bitumen injuries in the 'Soroka' (Beer-Sheba, Israel) and 'Barzilai' (Ashkelon, Israel) Medical Centres (80 and 150 km from the lake respectively) had anything to do with the Dead Sea area.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)438-441
Number of pages4
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1 Jan 1997


  • Accidents
  • Burns
  • Chemical
  • Etiology
  • Occupational

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Emergency Medicine
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


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