A fatal case of a paint thinner ingestion: Comparison between toxicological and histological findings

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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)186-191
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican Journal of Forensic Medicine and Pathology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2010


  • Paint thinner ingestion
  • Self poisoning
  • Toluene
  • Varnish-diluting solvents
  • Xylene

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Medicine(all)


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