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Activated Charcoal

About these monographs


Antidote & Gastrointestinal


Absorbent gastric decontaminant


Toxic ingestion by mouth

Mechanism of Action:

Directly binds to toxic agents within the digestive tract interrupting enterohepatic and enterovascular absorption. May also lower toxic metabolites eliminated via bile into the small intestines post hydrolysis.


Onset: Immediate

Peak Effects: Variable

Duration: 8 hours


Emesis or having received oral emetic

Poisoning by strong acids or alkaliacids or alkali

Adverse Effects:

Nausea, vomiting, constipation, diarrhoea, abdominal pain

Precautions and Facts:

Consult with local poisons centre (available nationally in AU @ 13 11 26 or in NZ @ 0800 764 766) to verify toxin

Does not bind to all toxic agents

Risk of aspiration

Preparations may be combined with sorbitol

Also known as activated carbon


25-50 g in 125-250 mL bottle


Age: Adult and Paediatric

Initial Dose: 1g/kg

Dose Intervals: 1 dose only

Volume/Dilution: n/a

Max Dose: 100 g

Cite as: Maria, S., Colbeck, M., & Caffey, M. (Eds.). (2020). Activated Charcoal. In Paramedic & Emergency Pharmacology Guidelines (2nd ed.). Melbourne, Victoria: Pearson.

This book is for information purposes only and is designed as a general reference for paramedics, students and healthcare professionals  No responsibility will be taken for inaccuracies, omissions or errors  The authors do not accept liability to any person or organization for the information that may result in loss or damages incurred as a result of reliance upon the material in this guide While every effort has been made to ensure that the information in this text is up to date, accurate and in accordance with current clinical recommendations and practice, the dynamic nature of healthcare and pharmaceutical information requires any student or health professional to exercise independent clinical judgement when referring, using or providing information from this book


A body of evidence for the development of this guide has been collected by the authors to support the pharmacokinetics, indication, contraindications, adverse effects and dosage behind each medication  This body reflects information provided by Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration, Monthly Index of Medical Specialities, the United States’ Food and Drug Administration, and both peer-reviewed studies and clinical trials demonstrating the approved efficacy, usage and current understanding of each medication  Additionally, the Australian Resuscitation Council guidelines and each state ambulance service’s clinical practice guidelines in Australia and New Zealand were reviewed and applied in order to maximize the clinical application of this reference guide  Lastly, this guide’s information is not endorsed, nor does it reflect preferences by any particular pharmaceutical company or ambulance service as this reference was compiled only to the most current and universal information available from the above listed, publicly available resources

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