Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Effects of Toluene (Methylbenzene)

From the Kungfuchem Blog:

  • Toluene is a common component in gasoline, glues, and paint products (including nail polish).
  • Recreational use is by inhaling vapor from toluene, often in a group setting. Toluene intoxication lasts longer than intoxication from assorted other inhalants.
  • Some actions of toluene are comparable to alcohol. Toluene can relax users, cheer them up, and produce hallucinations. Mood may change and become unpleasant, however, often in response to content of hallucinations.
  • People may have delusions of nonexistent abilities to fly or swim or that they must obey commands from some entity. Real-world scenes may seem more brightly lit than normal. Time may be perceived as passing faster. People may feel confused and dizzy and experience difficulty with balance and with controlling their limbs.
  • Volunteers who inhaled toluene fumes experienced headache, eye discomfort, and lower performance on tests of thinking ability.
  • Recreational users have reported slowness in thinking, and they have scored lower in intelligence testing than nonusers do.
  • Dementia can be a consequence of the habit.
  • Sniffers may also experience nausea, appetite loss, tremors, speech difficulty, double vision, and ringing in the ears.
  • Daily abuse for several years may cause significant problems in mobility; those symptoms may mimic beriberi.
  • Brain, lung, eye, and liver injury can occur in recreational users.
  • Investigators find that some physical damage may improve if exposure to toluene stops, although brain damage may be permanent.
  • High blood pressure is reported in blood circulating through the lungs.
  • Controversy exists about whether cardiac injury occurs, although a case report notes a
    heart attack suffered after a teenager sniffed toluene.
  • Anemia and other changes in blood composition may develop, changes affecting males and females in different ways. For example, in one study of persons chronically exposed to the substance, women had higher blood cholesterol levels than normal, and men had lower levels than normal.
  • Chronic abuse can deplete a person’s potassium levels; such depletion can damage muscles and produce irregular heartbeat.
  • The chemical may produce a kidney malfunction called renal tubular acidosis, which might lead to rickets. Renal tubular acidosis can have fatal complications, but case reports indicate the condition can clear up if a victim stops toluene sniffing.
  • Regular exposure can be dangerous enough, but an overdose can create a medical emergency.
  • In humans an overdose can dangerously speed up the heart, cause seizures and convulsions, and produce coma.
  • Fatalities occur.
  • An unusual hazard comes from the chemical’s ability to increase salivation; in one case, a semiconscious person nearly drowned in his own saliva as it flowed into his lungs.
  • The liquid can be absorbed through skin and may cause skin irritation.
  • Toluene is flammable, thus hazardous around flames or burning cigarettes.
  • Dependence is reported in humans, with a withdrawal syndrome including queasiness,perspiring, facial tics and abdominal cramps, peevishness, and difficulty with sleep. Symptoms last for several days.

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