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Fatal Acute Poisoning from Massive Inhalation of Gasoline Vapors: Case Report and Comparison with Similar Cases


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Mario Giusiani, Ph.D.

Department of Neuroscience

Section of Forensic Medicine

University of Pisa

Via Roma 57

Pisa 56126




We describe a case of an acute lethal poisoning with hydrocarbons resulting from massive accidental inhalation of gasoline vapors. The victim, a 50-year-old man was found unconscious inside a control room for the transport of unleaded fuel.

Complete autopsy was performed and showed evidence of congestion and edema of the lungs. Toxicological investigation was therefore fundamental to confirm exposure to fumes of gasoline.

Both venous and arterial blood showed high values of volatiles in particular for benzene (39.0 and 30.4 μg/mL, respectively), toluene (23.7 and 20.4 μg/mL), and xylene isomers (29.8 and 19.3 μg/mL). The relatively low values found in the lungs are consistent with the fact that the subject, during the rescue, underwent orotracheal intubation followed by resuscitation techniques, while the low concentrations for all substances found in urine and kidneys could point to a death that occurred in a very short time after first contact with the fumes of gasoline.