Death on industrial premises attributed to 111trichloroethane

A 20 year old apprentice electrician was found dead on the floor of a fume filled room, where he had earlier been using 1,1,1-TCE from an open bowl, as a degreasing solvent. The exact circumstances of the solvent's use leading to the incident are not known, although an upright, half-full can of solvent was on the workbench and there was evidence of some spillage on the floor. The man had been seen two hours previously by a colleague and had appeared well. At postmortem examination, the deceased had blistering and second degree burns on his face and neck, the skin changes being in line with the folds of his clothing, and consistent with prolonged contact of the solvent with the body. There was oedema and congestion of the brain and lungs, and small serous effusions in both pleural cavities. The stomach showed mucosal congestion and a few scattered petechial haemorrhages. The blood concentration of 1,1,1-TCE was 4.2 mg/100 ml, the brain concentration was 123 mg/ 100 g, and it was detected in the liver. At inquest it was concluded that death resulted from suppression of the respiratory centre secondary to severe central nervous system depression (Jones and Winter, 1983).

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