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The mysterious practice of petrol sniffing in isolated Indigenous groups


Dr Sheree Cairney, Menzies School of Health Research, PO Box 41096, Casuarina, NT 0810, Australia. Fax: +08 8927 5187; email:


The practice of petrol sniffing is a unique and poorly understood phenomenon that is associated with substantial morbidity, mortality and social devastation in affected remote Indigenous communities. For these groups and for the wider community, much mystery has surrounded the practice and its effects. Here we introduce the epidemiology of petrol sniffing among Indigenous groups internationally, review its impact on the brain, behaviour and social functions and summarise related interventions.