Organic solvent toxicity

Last updated: July 5, 2022

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Organic solvents are used in detergents, insecticides, and a number of industrial settings. Most of these substances are highly lipid-soluble and therefore capable of causing CNS disorders and polyneuropathy. Some organic solvents break down into metabolites that are carcinogenic. While the metabolites may be found in urine or blood, the diagnosis is usually established based on clinical features and a history of exposure. Most organic solvents do not have an antidote; therefore, treatment is generally supportive.

For an overview of other types of substance toxicity (e.g., with organophosphates), see the article on poisoning.

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Overview of some organic solvents

High lipid solubility


Aromatic amines toggle arrow icon


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Referencestoggle arrow icon

  1. Marquardt H, Schäfer SG, McClellan R, Welsch F . Toxicology. Academic Press ; 1999
  2. Levine MD. Hydrocarbon Toxicity. In: Miller MA, Hydrocarbon Toxicity. New York, NY: WebMD. Updated: June 6, 2017. Accessed: September 26, 2017.
  3. Roberts SM, James RC, Williams PL. Principles of Toxicology: Environmental and Industrial Applications. John Wiley & Sons ; 2014

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