Methanol inhalation toxicity

Ann Emerg Med. 1993 Dec;22(12):1919-23. doi: 10.1016/s0196-0644(05)80424-x.


Significant toxicity can result from intentional methanol inhalation. We report seven cases, involving four patients, of intentional inhalation of CARB-MEDIC carburetor cleaner containing toluene (43.8%), methanol (23.2%), methylene chloride (20.5%), and propane (12.5%). Patients arrived at the emergency department with central nervous system depression, nausea, vomiting, shortness of breath, photophobia, and/or decreased visual acuity. Treatment included correction of acidosis, leucovorin and/or folic acid, ethanol infusions, and supportive care. Hemodialysis was necessary in three cases. Measured blood methanol levels ranged from 50.4 to 128.6 mg/dL. Blood formic acid levels were 120, 193, and 480 micrograms/mL, respectively, in three patients. Ophthalmic examinations revealed hyperemic discs and decreased visual acuity in one patient. One individual was found pulseless with several CARB-MEDIC cans nearby. Attempts at revival were unsuccessful. Clinicians should be aware that significant blood methanol and formic acid levels may occur after inhalation of methanol.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Inhalation
  • Adult
  • Ethanol / therapeutic use
  • Folic Acid / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Leucovorin / therapeutic use
  • Male
  • Methanol / poisoning*
  • Poisoning / drug therapy
  • Substance-Related Disorders*


  • Ethanol
  • Folic Acid
  • Leucovorin
  • Methanol