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May 15, 1967

Drowning in Paint

Author Affiliations

From the departments of anesthesiology and surgery, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore.

JAMA. 1967;200(7):645-647. doi:10.1001/jama.1967.03120200123035

WORKING with petroleum solvents in unventilated tanks and pits is hazardous.1-4 The following is an account of an unusual accident in which two prisoners who were working in a vat were exposed to volatile solvents. An absolutely bizarre feature of this accident is the face-down drowning of the two men in 10 inches of paint residue. We were unable to uncover a similar report of what amounted to actual paint-drowning.

Report of Cases  At noon on Jan 12, 1965, anesthesia personnel at University Hospital were summoned to the emergency room to assist in the airway management for two prisoners from the Maryland House of Correction in Jessup. The prisoners were among a group of seven occupied in cleaning a giant, unventilated paint vat, the bottom of which was filled with approximately 10 inches of residue. The two prisoners, with questionably effective protective masks, were at the bottom of the