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416 The cause of burn accidents by the use of bio-ethanol
  1. Eva van Zoonen1,
  2. Inti van Eck1,
  3. Margriet van Baar2
  1. 1Dutch Burns Foundation, The Netherlands
  2. 2Dutch Burn Repository Group, The Netherlands


Background Since 2010, commercially available bio-ethanol fuelled burners became increasingly popular in Europe. Unfortunately, the increase in bio-ethanol use resulted in an increase in the number of burn injury victims as a result of accidents with bio-ethanol. In 2010 there were 2 victims of accidents with bio-ethanol requiring admission in a Dutch burn centre, whereas this number rose to 29 victims in 2011. To assess what caused this sudden peak in accidents with bio-ethanol, a qualitative exploring research with a interpretative variant was performed.

Methods First, field research was conducted. Three experts on bio-ethanol (burners) were questioned in order to construct sensitising concepts as a background for framing the interviews. Second, non steering semi-structured interviews were conducted among 14 victims of a bio-ethanol burn accident. Complete transcripts of the recorded interviews were divided by thematic fragments and coded according to the sensitising concepts. All the identical coded fragments were combined.

Results Bio-ethanol was often misused, that is 8 of the 14 participants used the bio-ethanol as an accelerant for lighting up a fire or barbeque instead of using it for bio-ethanol fuelled burners.

All participants had poor knowledge of bio-ethanol use and most participants did not read the conditions of use. Vapour formation in half-full bio-ethanol bottles forms a major risk for an explosion, especially when there is a flame in close proximity when using bio-ethanol. Many of the bio-ethanol bottles were half-full when the accident happened and flames were still in place when using bio-ethanol.

Conclusions Bio-ethanol is cheap and easily obtainable, which creates an image of an innocent product. Instead, bio-ethanol is a product with a high risk of accidents when misused. Our outcomes showed that during accidents with bio-ethanol, there was a lack of knowledge, bio-ethanol was used for the wrong purpose and flames were still in place when using bio-ethanol.

  • Burns
  • bio-ethanol
  • accidents
  • interviews

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