U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

NCJRS Virtual Library

The Virtual Library houses over 235,000 criminal justice resources, including all known OJP works.
Click here to search the NCJRS Virtual Library

Cases of Poisonings by Volatile Organic Compounds Noted at the Department of Forensic Medicine and Department of Internal Disease, Geriatrics and Clinical Toxicology of the Medical University of Gdansk During 2001-2006

NCJ Number
Problems of Forensic Sciences Volume: 70 Dated: 2007 Pages: 213-224
Marek Wiergowski; Jacek Sein Anand; Zbigniew Jankowski; Katarzyna Galer-Tatarowicz; Krystyna Regula; Beata Szpiech; Marek Wisniewski; Wojciech Waldman; Zygmunt Chodorowski
Date Published
12 pages
This paper describes the forensic analyses of two cases from Poland that involved poisoning by volatile organic compounds, one case of attempted suicide in which the woman survived and a second case in which two people sniffed “Nitro” diluter (one survived and one died).
The paper advises that a correct interpretation of cases of death caused by volatile organic compounds poisoning is possible on the basis of a correctly taken history of a patient, an analysis of circumstances at the scene (the presence of bottles which contained solvents and plastic bags), noting characteristic symptoms (specific smell), and also the performance of chemico-toxicological and histopathological analyses. One case presented involved the successful treatment of a woman who attempted to commit suicide by drinking approximately 300-500 ml of xylene. She was hospitalized 2.5 hours after ingestion. She was conscious and could speak and respond to questions. Gasometric analysis of arterial blood revealed partially compensated metabolic acidosis. The presence of xylene, ethyl benzene, and toluene was detected. Noninvasive intensive therapy was applied, and liquid paraffin was used. After 3 hours of treatment, full normalization of functions of the circulation system and acid-base balance was achieved. In the second case, two teens (14 and 17 years old) intoxicated themselves by pouring “Nitro” diluter into plastic bags and then putting their heads into them. According to a report, both lost consciousness. After regaining consciousness, the 17-year-old boy observed his friend lying on his left side with the plastic bag close to his face. The 17-year-old attempted to revive his friend with artificial respiration and a heart massage, but without success. A large concentration of volatile organic compounds (toluene, xylenes, and ethyl-benzene) was detected in the deceased boy. 3 tables, 2 figures, and 14 references