Home > Poisonings from hydrocarbon inhalant misuse in Australia.

Berling, Ingrid and Chiew, Angela and Brown, Jared (2023) Poisonings from hydrocarbon inhalant misuse in Australia. Addiction, 118, (7), pp. 1370-1375. doi: 10.1111/add.16166.

External website: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/add.16...

BACKGROUND AND AIMS: Inhalational misuse of volatile substances has been a significant public health concern due to the risk of sudden death and associated chronic complications such as encephalopathy. The Australian Government released a Consensus-based clinical practice guideline in 2011 for the management of volatile substance use in Australia, which noted a lack of available data particularly on harms. This study aimed to measure 1) the number of calls received by the New South Wales Poisons Information centre (NSWPIC) regarding inhalational hydrocarbon exposures or poisonings and 2) the number of unintentional deaths reported to the National Coronial Information System (NCIS) in Australia.

DESIGN, SETTING, CASES, MEASUREMENTS: We performed a retrospective review of all recreational inhalational hydrocarbon exposure calls to the New South Wales Poisons Information Centre (NSWPIC) between January 1st 2010 and December 31st 2020. A search was made of the NCIS database in all states and territories over the same period to determine the number of non-intentional inhalational hydrocarbon related deaths in Australia.

FINDINGS: Between January 2010 and December 2020 there were 752 primary calls made to the NSWPIC regarding hydrocarbon use or exposure. Age, or age bracket, was recorded in 748 cases, with 508 (67%) calls involving children or adolescents. Over the same time, there were 58 unintentional deaths involving the recreational use of inhalational hydrocarbons. The median age at death was 23 years (interquartile range [IQR]:15-30yrs) and 72% (42 cases) were male. Cause of death was predominately acute suffocation/asphyxia, encephalopathy related to chronic use, cardiac arrest likely from sudden sniffing syndrome or thermal injuries secondary to unintentional fires sparked by the volatile agents.

CONCLUSION: Although death and cardiac arrest are uncommon among people in Australia who misuse hydrocarbons for recreational use, the deaths and cardiac arrests tend to occur in adolescents.

Item Type
Publication Type
International, Open Access, Article
Drug Type
Inhalents and solvents
Intervention Type
Harm reduction
Identification #
doi: 10.1111/add.16166
Page Range
pp. 1370-1375

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