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HOME > PAST ISSUE > July-August 2013 > Article Detail

FEATURE ARTICLE

Solvents, Ethanol, Car Crashes & Tolerance

How risky is inhalation of organic solvents?

Philip J. Bushnell

Ethanol affects the central nervous system in ways that are very similar to the effects of solvents. Furthermore, the effects of ethanol and some solvents have been measured using the same test methods, making it possible to relate the potency of solvents and ethanol in a quantitative manner. The author applied this relationship, called a dose-equivalence equation, to the extensive database relating ingestion of ethanol to fatal automobile crashes. Surprisingly, this analysis revealed that acute exposure to solvents such as toluene, trichloroethylene, perchloroethylene and 1,1,1-tricholoroethane at concentrations below a threshold for long-term effects increases the risk of a fatal automobile accident.


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