During the period 1961-80, 384 cases of industrial gassing poisonings by trichlorethylene, perchlorethylene, and 1-1-1 trichloroethane (methylchloroform) were reported to HM Factory Inspectorate. A study of these data, which have been collated and analysed with particular reference to sex, age, clinical manifestations, and circumstances of the incident, is presented. Possible bias of the data owing to its source and method of extraction is discussed. The study shows the hazards inherent in the use of these narcotic solvents and discusses the circumstances that appear most likely to produce problems. The vulnerability of the younger worker is shown. Toxic effects were most commonly exerted on the central nervous system but no good evidence of cardiac or hepatic toxicity was found. In nine cases evidence of deliberate sniffing of solvent was reported. The problem of solvent abuse in an industrial context is discussed.
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