Solvents and vapours — the toxic effects.

Two of the most important properties of solvents with regard to their toxicity are volatility - which allows them to enter the respiratory tract very easily, and their affinity for fatty tissues. Solvents are readily absorbed through the skin and the gastro-intestinal tract also, and transport occurs via the blood. Excretion occurs either through exhalation or as a result of metabolism, primarily involving the liver.

Because the brain, spinal cord and nervous system are made of fatty tissue, these substances can readily accumulate in these areas if they are not metabolised and excreted. This can occur very rapidly in some instances, and can be observed in surgical anaesthesia, whereby patients lose consciousness within a couple of minutes.

Children may be particularly vulnerable to some chemicals if they do not have mature metabolic pathways. Also, there are particular windows during life, in which the endocrine glands may be more susceptible to such toxicity. The elderly, and women, are two other groups who may also be susceptible. Both groups may have increased proportions of fat:lean muscle ratio, and the elderly have less efficient metabolic and excretory pathways.

Unlike as is the case for metals, there is no conventional comparable chelation therapy for the removal of these chemicals. However FCT addresses the issues of xenobiotic removal in exactly the same way as it does for metals.

Academic research:

NICE journals and databases: organic solvents.

Occupational neurotoxic diseases in Taiwan.

Adverse medical effects of pesticides.

Applied Toxicology NURS 735 Toxicity of organic compounds: solvents and chlorinated organics.

Neurophysiological aspects of the toxicity of organic solvents.

Medscape reference: Organic solvents.

A case-control study of fatty liver disease and organic solvent exposure.

Associations of fat mass and lean mass with bone mineral density differ by levels of persistent organic pollutants: National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 1999-2004.