Volume 38, Issue 2 (March 1993)
Fatality Due to Recreational Use of Chlorodifluoromethane and Chloropentafluoroethane
Reports on fatalities of chlorofluorocarbons usually involve chlorotrifluoroethane, trichlorofluoromethane, dichlorodifluoromethane or chlorodifluoromethane, where analysis was done using packed column gas chromatography. In this case a death was caused by an azeotropic mixture of chlorodifluoromethane and chloropentafluoroethane, a combination that has not previously been reported in the forensic literature. This report details the analysis using mass selective detection employing capillary gas chromatography columns currently used in many toxicology laboratories.
Postmortem toxicology revealed blood concentrations of chlorodifluoromethane and chloropentafluoroethane of 71 mg/L and 0.30 mg/L, respectively. Brain, liver, and lung concentrations of chlorodifluoromethane were (mg/kg) 2.8, 4.4, and 1.6, respectively. Brain, liver, and lung concentrations of chloropentafluoroethane were (mg/kg) 0.80, 0.80, and 0.11, respectively. The victim's blood contained 5.5 mg/L caffeine. Lidocaine, used in resuscitation attempts, was also present in the victim's blood. No other alkali-extractable drugs or volatile alcohols were detected in the victim's blood. The cause of death was acute respiratory arrest due to chlorofluorocarbon inhalation.