Multi-organ toxicity and death following acute unintentional inhalation of paint thinner fumes

Clin Toxicol (Phila). 2007;45(3):287-9. doi: 10.1080/15563650601031791.


Background: Paint thinners containing a mixture of volatile organic solvents have considerable potential for solvent abuse. Deaths from solvent inhalation have been reported but most of them relate to intentional solvent abuse and occur soon after exposure. Accidental death due to unintentional inhalation of solvent vapors can also occur suddenly but more often, death results from late complications secondary to multi-organ toxicity. Malfunctioning of the cardiorespiratory, renal, and central nervous systems as a result of latent-toxic effects of solvent exposure has received little attention.

Case report: An adult male unintentionally inhaled an excessive amount of paint thinner vapors and immediately developed central nervous system effects, followed by severe cardiorespiratory and renal pathologies that ultimately led to death 11 days after exposure.

Conclusion: Acute unintentional inhalation of paint thinner fumes resulted in serious multi-organ toxicity and death. This case strongly suggests the need to employ suitable precautionary measures while handling volatile organic solvents in a confined area.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Air Pollutants / poisoning*
  • Brain Diseases, Metabolic / chemically induced*
  • Brain Diseases, Metabolic / pathology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / chemically induced*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / pathology
  • Fatal Outcome
  • Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry
  • Humans
  • Inhalation Exposure / adverse effects
  • Kidney Diseases / chemically induced*
  • Kidney Diseases / pathology
  • Lung Diseases / chemically induced*
  • Lung Diseases / pathology
  • Male
  • Organic Chemicals / chemistry
  • Organic Chemicals / poisoning
  • Paint
  • Solvents / chemistry
  • Solvents / poisoning*


  • Air Pollutants
  • Organic Chemicals
  • Solvents