Biomonitoring

The ACGIH has no biological exposure index for chloroform exposure (ACGIH, 2000).

Chloroform was discovered in 1831, although it was not until 1834 that it was correctly analysed and named. It was first used as an anaesthetic in November 1847, the first death was reported in January 1848 in a 15 year old girl (Challen et al., 1958; Payne, 1981).

Toxicity may occur through ingestion, inhalation, injection or prolonged skin contact. The initial effects of chloroform toxicity are those of CNS depression. These effects come on rapidly following ingestion or inhalation. Hepatotoxicity occurs 10-48 hours post exposure with the liver function tests peaking 3-4 days post exposure. They usually return to normal within 6-8 weeks. Renal failure is usually evident within 24-48 hours. Death may occur early from arrhythmias or 4 to 5 days later due to severe liver damage.

Chloroform poisoning has occurred following

• Occupational exposure (Challen et al., 1958; Bomski et al., 1967; Phoon et al., 1983; Li et al., 1993)

• Intentional inhalation for suicide (Giusti and Chiarotti, 1981; Meichsner et al., 1998; Nadjem and Logemann, 1998) and abuse (Heilbrunn et al., 1945; Hutchens and Kung, 1985; Harada et al., 1997)

• Intentional ingestion for suicide (Waterston and Robinson, 1898; Kohr, 1990; Boyer et al., 1998) and abuse (Conlon, 1963)

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