Volume 41, Issue 1 (January 1996)
Fatal Accidental Ingestion of Carbon Tetrachloride: A Postmortem Distribution Study
This paper reports a fatality involving a 75-year-old white male, who ingested an unknown quantity of carbon tetrachloride (CCl4)—a toxic agent able to induce central neryous system depression and severe renal and hepatic damage—and who died after two days of intensive care. The analytical assessment of CCl4 concentration was performed on several biological fluids and tissues employing gas chromatography-flame ionization detection (GC-FID) head space method. Both urine (328.5 mg/L) and bile (169.8 mg/L) had high concentrations of CCl4, proving that the chemical undergoes extensive urinary and biliary excretion. In accordance with the high clearance power of lungs, systemic venous blood, (143.4 mg/L) had a concentration of CCl4 almost two and half times greater than in arterial blood (57.5 mg/L), representing the best specimen to correlate CCl4 blood concentration with the deep of narcosis. Vitreous humor, (170.5 mg/L) concentration of CCl4 proves the capability of the chemical to enter eyes and its relatively slow release into the systemic blood. Pancreas (657.9 mg/kg), brain (243 mg/kg) and testis (237.3 mg/kg) have great affinity for CCl4. The concentrations of the chemical in brain are cortex: 243.2 mg/kg, basal ganglia: 216.1 mg/kg, medulla oblongata: 243.3 mg/kg and crebellum: 175.3 mg/kg. As the depth of narcosis is correlated with CCl4 concentration, brain represents the most suitable tissue for toxicologic analysis. Lower concentrations of the chemical are found in lungs (127.3 mg/kg), kidneys (150.5 mg/kg), muscle (71.1 mg/kg), myocardium (78.5 mg/kg) and spleen (68.3 mg/kg). Liver (58.6 mg/Kg), a frequently analyzed tissue in forensic toxicology, shows the lowest concentration.