Organic Solvents

L. G. Costa, Michael Aschner

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

3 Scopus citations


Millions of people worldwide are exposed to organic solvents because of their multitude of uses. Organic solvents are lipophilic and have variable volatility; exposure is dermal or via inhalation. Most solvents cause central nervous system depression, characterized by initial euphoria and excitation, followed by lethargy, dizziness, and narcosis. A general syndrome associated with chronic solvent exposure is the chronic solvent encephalopathy, the final stage of which may include marked global deterioration in intellect and memory.Solvents that have specific and unique neurotoxic features include n-hexane and carbon disulfide, which cause a peripheral sensorimotor polyneuropathy; toluene, which can induce hearing loss, and, through abuse, severe brain damage, as well as an embryopathy known as fetal solvent syndrome; and styrene, which causes a nonspecific encephalopathy in humans.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationEncyclopedia of the Neurological Sciences
PublisherElsevier Inc.
Number of pages2
ISBN (Electronic)9780123851574
ISBN (Print)9780123851581
StatePublished - Jan 1 2014


  • Carbon disulfide
  • Chronic encephalopathy
  • CNS depression
  • N-Hexane
  • Peripheral neuropathy
  • Styrene
  • Toluene

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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