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July 28, 1962

Glue-Sniffing in Children: Deliberate Inhalation of Vaporized Plastic Cements

Author Affiliations


From the Department of Pediatrics and the Adolescent Clinic, University of Colorado Medical Center.

JAMA. 1962;181(4):300-303. doi:10.1001/jama.1962.03050300020004

Glue-sniffing, the deliberate inhalation of vaporized plastic cements, is a practice of increasing frequency among adolescents. Sensations resembling acute alcoholic intoxication are induced by self-exposure to the volatile organic solvents variously present in model airplane glues. Symptoms vary from mild euphoria and exhilaration to gross disorientation and coma after prolonged inhalation. Physiological addiction evidently does not occur, but psychological dependency is common. Although cement fumes are potentially injurious to liver, kidneys, brain, and bone marrow, there have been no reports of serious organ damage ascribed to glue-sniffing. In 2 years 130 glue-sniffers were arrested in Denver; the average age of these children was 13, and all but 6 of them were boys. Delinquency, economic deprivation, and minority group factors were associated problems in many of these cases.

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