1,1,1-TCE sensitises the heart to catecholamines, is a CNS and respiratory system depressant, and a skin and mucous membrane irritant. 1,1,1-TCE is less toxic than other chlorinated hydrocarbons, which may be explained in part by its lesser degree of metabolism, since the majority of an inhaled dose is excreted unchanged via the lungs. It is weakly anaesthetic when compared to other chlorinated hydrocarbons (Kelafant et al., 1994).

Most cases of poisoning with 1,1,1-TCE result from accidental exposure or intentional abuse, commonly referred to as volatile solvent abuse (VSA). Accidents involving the accumulation of high concentrations are rare; the highest risk group are intentional abusers. A review of industrial accidents reported to the Factory Inspectorate in the UK during the period 1961-1980 revealed 52 incidents due to 1,1,1-TCE (McCarthy and Jones, 1983).

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