Solvents and Vapors

A Small Dose of Solvents and Vapors

  • An Introduction into the Health Effects of Solvents and Vapors


Solvents Dossier

Name: Solvent (broad class of chemicals)

  • Use: varied - recreational (alcohol) to industrial (gasoline, degreasers)
  • Source: synthetic chemistry, petroleum products; plant oils
  • Recommended daily intake: none (not essential)
  • Absorption: intestine, inhalation (major), skin
  • Sensitive individuals: fetus, children
  • Toxicity/symptoms: nervous system, reproductive system, and death
  • General facts: long history of use (alcohol), high volatility of solvent results in inhalation exposure to vapors
  • Environmental: volatile organic compounds react with sunlight to produce smog
  • Recommendations: avoid, use proper workplace protection

Solvents Chapter

PowerPoint Presentation

More Information and References

European, Asian, and international Agencies

North American Agencies

  • US Department of Labor Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA). Safety and Health Topics: Solvents. This site has extensive information on solvents in the workplace.
  • US Agency for Toxic Substance Disease Registry (ATSDR). Hazardous Substance Fact Sheets. Site contains fact sheets and case studies on many common solvents.
  • US National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). Drugs of Abuse Information. Site contains information on inhalants and solvents as drugs of abuse.
  • US National Library of Medicine. Tox Town: Solvents. Addresses various areas where solvents can be found including city, farm, and workplace.
  • US National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). Organic Solvents. Excellent information on a wide range of solvents.


Non-government Organizations

  • The Wood Library-Museum of Anesthesiology. The objective of the Wood Library-Museum of Anesthesiology is to collect and preserve literature and equipment pertaining to anesthesiology and to make available to the anesthesiology community, others in the medical profession and the public the most comprehensive educational, scientific and archival resources in anesthesiology.



  • Darwin, Charles, Nora Barlow (Editor). The Autobiography of Charles Darwin 1809-1882. New York, NY: W.W. Norton & Company, 1993.
  • Dick, FD. "Solvent neurotoxicity". Occup Environ Med. 63, 3 (2006): 221–226. Feldman, R. G., Ratner, M. H., and T. Ptak. "Chronic toxic encephalopathy in a painter exposed to mixed solvents". Environ Health Perspect. 107, 5 (1999): 417–422.


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