Cardiac arrhythmias and aerosol “sniffing”

Charles F. Reinhardt, Alex Azar, Mary E. Maxfield, Paul E. Smith, Linda S. Mullin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

170 Scopus citations


Aerosol “sniffing,” a variant of glue “sniffing,” involves the deliberate inhalation of aerosol products and propellants. Approximately 65 deaths have been attributed to this practice. They have been predominantly sudden and generally lack conclusive autopsy findings. The cause of death has not been defined in most cases; however, various mechanisms have been postulated. The evidence suggests acute cardiac arrest as a frequent cause. It could result from the sudden onset of ventricular fibrillation due to sensitization of the heart to epinephrine by inhalation of high concentrations of aerosol contents. Experimental investigation revealed that the commonly used aerosol propellants, in high concentrations, are capable of sensitizing the heart to epinephrine resulting in serious cardiac arrhythmias. Therefore, it is concluded that cardiac sensitization is a likely mechanism of death in many of the aerosol-sniffing fatalities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)265-279
Number of pages15
JournalArchives of Environmental Health
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1971
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • General Environmental Science
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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