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October 5, 1970

Cardiac Toxicity of Aerosol Propellants

JAMA. 1970;214(1):136. doi:10.1001/jama.1970.03180010076018

An item in AMAGRAMS in The Journal, Aug 5, 1968 (205, adv p 9) called attention to the dangers of a sniffing fad then prevalent among youngsters— the inhalation of Freons from aerosol containers intended for frosting cocktail glasses. At that time it was stated that such inhalation might cause deaths due to a narcotizing effect, freezing damage to the lungs, laryngeal spasm, or anoxia owing to displacement of air.

Recently, Bass1 collected records of 110 sniffing deaths and, from his observations and review of the literature, inferred that sudden death from inhalation of volatile hydrocarbons is probably due to severe cardiac arrhythmia. Elsewhere in this issue of The Journal (p 81), Taylor and Harris provide experimental evidence to support that inference. Using pocket nebulizers that dispense isoproterenol hydrochloride, they demonstrated that when asphyxia is induced in mice following inhalation of Freons, the sinoatrial (SA) heart rate was slowed