Volume 45, Issue 1 (January 2000)
Death Due to Inhalation of Ethyl Chloride
A 30-year-old white male was found dead in a locked apartment with a rag held loosely in his mouth. Four cans (3 empty, 1 partially empty) containing ethyl chloride and labeled as VCR head cleaner were found next to the body. Phenylpropanolamine and low therapeutic levels of diazepam (64 µg/L) and nordiazepam (126 µg/L) were detected during toxicological analysis. An unidentified peak was observed when performing ethanol analysis by headspace gas chromatography. The peak was identified as ethyl chloride and the concentrations in the blood, urine, vitreous, brain, and lungs of the deceased were 423 mg/L, 35 mg/L, 12 mg/L, 858 mg/kg, and 86 mg/kg, respectively. The results were compared with previously reported levels of ethyl chloride in blood and vitreous and, based on a literature search, we believe that this is the first report of ethyl chloride levels in tissue.