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White Phosphorus


Tetraphosphorus; Yellow phosphorus


White phosphorus is the most common and reactive allotropic form of elemental phosphorus. It is a waxy translucent solid that turns yellow upon light exposure. White phosphorus can be found in many military products like grenades, tracer rounds, mortar shells, and artillery shells for incendiary or smokescreen production purposes. In addition to that it also can be found in civilian practice as in firecrackers, rodenticides, insecticides, and fertilizers.

White phosphorus has a low melting point 111 F (44 C) and it autoignites at about 86 F (30 C). At any temperature above the autoignition temperature, it reacts spontaneously with oxygen producing phosphorus pentoxide with a resultant white smoke and yellow flame. It continues to ignite until it is either consumed or deprived from oxygen. It also hydrolyzes in water to produce the corrosive phosphoric acid.

Clinical Manifestations

White phosphorus burned tissues appear as a...

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Correspondence to Mohammad Alzghari .

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© 2015 Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg

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Alzghari, M. (2015). White Phosphorus. In: Papadakos, P.J., Gestring, M.L. (eds) Encyclopedia of Trauma Care. Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg.

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