Concentrations of toluene in the body killed by an injury to the head shortly after ingesting thinner

Forensic Sci Int. 2005 Jan 6;147(1):9-12. doi: 10.1016/j.forsciint.2004.03.036.


An autopsy was conducted on a male showing leather-like skin damage, revealing the cause of death to be an injury to the head. Thinner was found scattered around the scene of death, and stomach and intestine contents smelled strongly of solvent. Toxicological analysis was conducted to determine whether or not the solvent was of a lethal level. Using gas chromatography, peaks of toluene, xylene, and ethylbenzene were detected in the blood and gastric contents. No toluene was detected in the urine, and therefore it was concluded that the decedent died of a severe head injury shortly after solvent ingestion. In the literature, toluene concentrations in blood and lung samples were determined as both fatal and non-fatal but clear differences in the fatality of toluene in solid organ samples, namely, the brain, liver and kidneys were shown. The brain is especially useful in postmortem analysis. In this case, the concentration of toluene in the brain was 20.0 microl/g, which was considered as a non-lethal level.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Benzene Derivatives / analysis
  • Brain Chemistry*
  • Flame Ionization
  • Forensic Medicine
  • Fractures, Comminuted / pathology
  • Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry
  • Gastrointestinal Contents / chemistry*
  • Head Injuries, Penetrating / pathology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Skull Fractures / pathology
  • Solvents / administration & dosage
  • Solvents / analysis*
  • Toluene / administration & dosage
  • Toluene / analysis*
  • Xylenes / analysis


  • Benzene Derivatives
  • Solvents
  • Xylenes
  • Toluene
  • ethylbenzene