XYLENE AND BENZENE:
AROMATIC HYDROCARBON SOLVENTS AND PROPELLANTS
SYMPTOMATOLOGY OF XYLENE
~*~ACUTE INGESTION OR INHALATION
~*~CHRONIC OR REPEATED INHALATION
~*~SENSITIZATION of the MYOCARDIUM by Aromatic Hydrocarbons
~*~XYLENE and its BENZENE contaminants
~*~ SEVERE DISTURBANCES in DNA and RNA SYNTHESIS
~*~ ACUTE MYELOGENOUS LEUKEMIA
The label on the Diazinon formulation used at Southwest
Baptist University indicates that ALMOST HALF of the Diazinon
formulation was composed of XYLENE, a poisonous aromatic
petroleum distillates, used as a propellant.
The properties of xylene are as TOXIC as those of the pesticides
Aromatic hydrocarbons, such as xylene, are often implemented
in cases of injury or death associated with the accidental
or intentional ("sniffing") inhalation of propellant-containing
For more information on "sniffing" or "huffing," please see:
Teenage "Huffing" -- Worse Than Cocaine
CBN -- March 15, 2000
SYMPTOMATOLOGY OF XYLENE:
A. ACUTE INGESTION OR INHALATION:
1. Ingestion causes a burning sensation in the
mouth and stomach, also nausea, vomiting, and
2. Substernal pain, cough, and hoarseness are described.
3. Aspiration into the tracheobronchial tree, either
during ingestion or subsequent to vomiting...
is likely to produce a SEVERE HEMORRHAGIC
4. In vapor exposures a transient euphoria is sometimes
5. Headache, giddiness, vertigo, ATAXIA [inability
to coordinate voluntary muscular movements which
is symptomatic of nervous injury], and tinnitus
[a ringing or similar sensation of sound in ears].
6. CONFUSION, STUPEFACTION, AND COMA.
7. Often associated with this COMA are TREMORS,
MOTOR RESTLESS, HYPERTONUS [increased
rigidity, tension, and spasticity of the muscles], and
8. DEATH FROM RESPIRATORY FAILURE or from
SUDDEN VENTRICULAR FIBRILLATION.
9. Skin contact with liquid may cause ERYTHEMA
[abnormal redness of the skin due to capillary
congestion] and even blisters if the contact is
prolonged. Hemorrhagic inflammatory lesions
develop on mucous membranes in contact with
B. CHRONIC OR REPEATED INHALATION:
1. SEVERE MUSCLE WEAKNESS LEADING TO
PARALYSIS.... CARDIAC ARRHYTHMIAS [irregular
2. GASTROINTESTINAL COMPLAINTS including,
abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting and hematemesis...
3. Neuropsychiatric complaints, including
(a) LETHARGY, HALLUCINATIONS, COMA or
(b) HEADACHE, DIZZINESS, SYNCOPE [partial or
complete temporary SUSPENSION OF RESPIRATION
and CIRCULATION due to cerebral ischemia, localized
tissue anemia due to OBSTRUCTION of the INFLOW of
or (c) PARESTHESIA and PERIPHERAL NEUROPATHY
[abnormal and usually DEGENERATIVE STATE OF
or (d) cerebellar ATAXIA and other cerebellar signs.
SENSITIZATION of the MYOCARDIUM
by AROMATIC HYDROCARBONS
A warning is given in the treatment of XYLENE exposure:
The known propensity of AROMATIC HYDROCARBONS to
SENSITIZE the MYOCARDIUM [the middle muscular layer
of the heart wall] to circulating epinephrine may potentiate
the effects of the "diving reflex" in which IRRITANT VAPORS
trigger APNEA [cessation of respiration], bradycardia
[slow heart action], vasomotor changes [relating to nerve
centers controlling the size of blood vessels] and perhaps
CARDIAC ARRHYTHMIAS (Allison, 1978).
AVOID EPINEPHRINE [an adrenal hormone used medicinally
in the treatment of asthma] because of its possible adverse
effect on the SENSITIZED myocardium.
[Note: Epinephrine and its derivatives are the treatments
of choice for the extreme, life-threatening form of allergic
reaction known as anaphylactic or anaphylactoid shock.]
Clinical Toxicology of Commercial Products (fifth edition)
XYLENE and its BENZENE contaminants
Even more disturbing (for the student population as
a whole )is the fact that XYLENE and other related petro-
chemical distillates contaminants such as benzene can
cause undetected disruption of the blood and other
metabolic processes EVEN YEARS AFTER EXPOSURE:
Chronic benzene exposure eventually leads to...
thrombocytopenia [persistent decrease in the number of
blood platelets] and ANEMIA.
Anemia may be responsible for such signs and symptoms
as weight loss, weakness, fatigue, headache, lethargy, etc..
Thrombocytopenia leads to HEMORRHAGIC TENDENCIES,
including petechiae [minute hemorrhagic spots on skin or
mucus membrane], easy bruising, epistaxsea [nose bleeds],
bleeding from the gums and menorrhagia [abnormally profuse
...At one time or another, however, almost EVERY KNOWN
TYPE of BLOOD DYSCRASIS [abnormality] has been
ascribed to benzene exposure.
...SERIOUS ABNORMALITIES in the peripheral blood
have been found in exposed workers in the complete
absence of physical signs or symptoms and vice versa.
There are enormous and unexplained differences in
individual sensitivity (Greenburg et al., 1939).
BENZENE: SEVERE DISTURBANCES
in DNA and RNA SYNTHESIS
Severe disturbances of the DNA and RNA synthesis...
and increased CHROMOSOME ABERRATIONS
[abnormalities] have been found in peripheral LYMPHOCYTES
MANY YEARS AFTER EXPOSURE (Forni, et al., 1971;
Picciano, 1979; Tough and Brown, 1965).
BENZENE and ACUTE MYELOGENOUS LEUKEMIA
For decades Benzene occupied an anomalous [unusual]
position in that most authorities agree that it was one
chemical where a reasonable cause-and-effect relationship
established for ACUTE MYELOGENOUS LEUKEMIA
[leukemia characterized by proliferation of the myeloid tissue
(bone marrow, spleen, etc.)] in humans (Cronkite, 1961).
...Cases are now appearing in the clinical literature
in which exposures producing acute myelotoxicity were
followed MANY YEARS later by leukemia (Aksoy, et al.,
1974; DeGowen, 1963; Vigliani and Saita, 1964; Vigiliani
and Forni, 1976).
--Source: Clinical Toxicology of
Commercial Products (fifth edition)
Xylene: Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry
Public Health Statement, 1990. Click here.
Benzene: Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry
Public Health Statement., 1989. Click here.
Toluene: Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry
Public Health Statement., 1989. Click here.
REFERENCES AND SOURCES
1. "The World Health Report" from The Encyclopedia of
Occupational Health and Safety (third revision, 1983)
International Labor Organization, Giennva,
Switzerland (pages 1637-1647).
2. Clinical Toxicology of Commercial Products (fifth
edition) Williams and Wilkens, Publishers (Baltimore,
London, Los Angeles, Sydney), edited by Robert E.
Gosselin, M.D., Ph.D., Roger P. Smith, Ph.D., Harold
C. Hodge, Ph.D., D.Sc. (pages 397-404).
[Brackets enclose added medical definitions and information].
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