Institutional members access full text with Ovid®

Share this article on:

A Fatal Case of a Paint Thinner Ingestion: Comparison Between Toxicological and Histological Findings

Argo, Antonina MD*; Bongiorno, David PhD; Bonifacio, Antonino MD*; Pernice, Valentina*; Liotta, Rosa MD, PhD*; Indelicato, Serena PhD; Zerbo, Stefania MD*; Fleres, Pierangela MD*; Ceraulo, Leopoldo PhD; Procaccianti, Paolo MD*

The American Journal of Forensic Medicine and Pathology: June 2010 - Volume 31 - Issue 2 - p 186-191
doi: 10.1097/PAF.0b013e3181c6c11f
Case Report

Toluene and xylene are aromatic hydrocarbons commonly used as an industrial solvent for the manufacturing of pharmaceuticals, paints, and chemicals. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has determined that toluene levels of 2000 parts per million (ppm) are considered dangerous to life and health. Several studies have examined the absorption of toluene and xylene following inhalation and oral ingestion in humans. Volatile organic compounds that are absorbed into the blood are distributed throughout the body; in particular, distribution of absorbed toluene and xylene in humans and rodents is characterized by preferential uptake in well-perfused and lipophil tissues such as the brain, liver, lungs, and body fat and also in central nervous system. The available studies indicate that xylenes are rapidly absorbed independently from the kind of exposition. We illustrate a fatal case of self-poisoning by ingestion of varnishes diluting solvents, reporting the identification and quantification of volatile organic compounds (toluene, o-m-p xylene) from human biologic liquids and viscera samples using the Solid–Phase Microextraction-Headspace-Gas Chromatography/Mass Spectrometry to toxicological analysis, and the histopathological findings evaluated in liver, kidney, and lungs.

From the *Departments of Biotechnology and Legal Medicine and †Chemical and Pharmaceutical Technologies, University of Palermo, Palermo, Italy.

Manuscript received June 27, 2008; accepted January 4, 2009.

Reprints: Antonina Argo, MD, Department of Biotechnology and Legal Medicine, University of Palermo, Palermo, Italy. E-mail:

© 2010 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.