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September 1964

Pentaborane Intoxication

Author Affiliations


From the Department of Medicine, the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine and the Cincinnati General Hospital, and General Electric Company.

Arch Intern Med. 1964;114(3):364-374. doi:10.1001/archinte.1964.03860090098010

Introduction  The search of government and industry for propellant fuels with high energy content has resulted in the investigation of pentaborane. This report describes the medical aspects of pentaborane intoxication.Boron hydrides have the general formula of BnHn+4. They are extremely active reducing substances, with nearly double the energy content of standard hydrocarbon fuels. Examples include diborane (B2H6), a gas; pentaborane (B5H9), a liquid; and decaborane (B10H14), a solid, under stand- ard conditions. The boranes are generally soluble in organic solvents, and may hydrolyze in water. They oxidize vigorously to produce boric oxide (B2O3), water, and much heat. Some of the hydrides are spontaneously pyrophoric.1Extensive animal experiments, as well as limited observation upon humans, indicate that boron hydrides possess an unusual degree of toxicity.2-4,8,12,16Intoxication may occur from inhalation, ingestion, or absorption

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