Gasoline Sniffing in Northern Canada

  • Gordon E. Barnes


Gasoline sniffing represents one of the most serious drug use problems in terms of the risk to the user. Numerous deaths have been attributed to solvent abuse (Bass, 1970) and gasoline may be one of the most dangerous substances in use by sniffers. Gasoline is a mixture of hydrocarbons including paraffins, olefins, napthenes, and aromatics. Certain common forms of gasoline also contain tetraethyl lead. Gasoline is particularly dangerous because of the presence of tetraethyl lead and the aromatic hydrocarbon, benzene. Tetraethyl lead has been shown to cause lead poisoning (Angle and Eade, 1975; Boeckx, Postl, and Goodin, 1977; Lynn, 1975). While benzene can have potentially destructive effects on bone marrow cells (Nurcombe, Bianchi, Money, and Cawte, 1970). Several deaths have been attributed to gasoline sniffing (Angle and Eade, 1975; Boeckx et al., 1977, Ferguson, 1975; Nurcombe et al., 1970; Sokol, 1981) with the mechanism being respiratory failure resulting from central nervous system depression and respiratory irritation and bronchiolar obstruction (Nurcombe et al., 1970). The constituents and clinical effects of gasoline are summarized in Table 1.


Parental Drug Parental Control Acculturative Stress Path Analytic Model Petrol Vapour 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Angle, M. R., and Eade, N. R. Gasoline sniffing and tetraethyl lead poisoning in a northern native community. Epidemiological and Social Research Division, Research Bureau, Non-Medical Use of Drugs Directorate, Health and Welfare Canada, Report No. ERD-74–19, March, 1975.Google Scholar
  2. Annis, H. M., Klug, R., and Blackwell, D. Drug use among high school students in Timmins. Unpublished manuscript. Toronto: Addiction Research Foundation, 1971.Google Scholar
  3. Asher, H. B. Causal Modelling. Sage University paper series on quantitative applications in the social sciences, 07–003. Beverly Hills: Sage Publications, 1976.Google Scholar
  4. Barnes, G. E. “Solvent abuse: A review.” International Journal of the Addictions, 1979, 14: 1–26.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. Bartlett, S., and Tapia, F. “Glue and gasoline ‘sniffing,’ the addiction of youth.” Modern Medicine, 1966, 63 (4): 270–272.Google Scholar
  6. Bass, M. “Sudden sniffing death.” Journal of the American Medical Association, 1970, 212: 2075–2079.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Beattie, A. D., Moore, M. R., and Goldberg, A. “Tetraethyl-lead poisoning.” The Lancet, July 1, 1972, 12–15.Google Scholar
  8. Bethell, M. R. “Toxic psychosis caused by inhalation of petrol fumes.” British Medical Journal, 1965, 2: 276–277.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Black, P. D. “Mental illness due to the voluntary inhalation of petrol vapour.” Medical Journal of Australia, 1967, 2: 70–71.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. Boeckx, R. L., Postl, B., and Coodin, F.S. “Gasoline sniffing and tetraethyl lead poisoning in children.” Pediatrics, 1977, 60: 140–145.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. Braroe, N. E. Indian and White. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press, 1975.Google Scholar
  12. Brown, N. W. “Gasoline inhalation.” Journal of the Medical Association of Georgia, 1968, 57: 217–221.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. Carrol, H. G., and Abel, G. G. “Chronic gasoline inhalation.” Southern Medical Journal, 1973, 66: 1429–1430.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Clinger, O. W., and Johnson, N.A. “Purposeful inhalation of gasoline vapors.” Psychiatric Quarterly, 1951, 25: 557–567.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Cockerham, W. C., and Blevins, A. L. “Open school vs traditional school: self-identification among native American and white adolescents.” Sociology of Education, 1976, 49: 164–169.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Cress, J. N., and O’Donnell, J. P. “The self-esteem inventory and the Oglala Sioux: A validation study.” Journal of Social Psychology, 1975, 97: 135–136.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Durden, W. D., Jr., and Chipman, D. W. “Gasoline sniffing complicated by acute carbon tetrachloride poisoning.” Archives of Internal Medicine, 1967, 371–374.Google Scholar
  18. Easson, W. M. “Gasoline addiction in children.” Pediatrics, 1962, 29: 250–254.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. Edwards, R. V. “A case report of gasoline sniffing.” American Journal of Psychiatry, 1960, 117: 555–557.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. Faucett, R.L., and Jensen, R. A. “Addiction to the inhalation of gasoline fumes in a child.” Journal of Pediatrics, 1952, 41: 364–368.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Ferguson, C. A. “Chemical abuse in the north.” University of Manitoba Medical Journal, 1975, 45: 129–132.Google Scholar
  22. Fuchs, E., and Havighurst, R. J. To Live on This Earth. Garden City, New York: Doubleday and Company, Inc., 1973.Google Scholar
  23. Gold, N. “Self-intoxication by petrol vapour inhalation.” Medical Journal of Australia, 1963, 2: 582–583.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  24. Hayden, J. W., and Comstock, E. G. “The clinical toxicology of solvent abuse.” Clinical Toxicology, 1976, 9: 169–184.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Hunter, A. G. W., Thompson, D., and Evans, J. A. “Is there a fetal gasoline syndrome?” Teratology, 1979, 20: 75–80.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Instructional Objectives Exchange. Measures of Self-Concept-Grades K-12 (Revised edition). Los Angeles, California, 1972.Google Scholar
  27. Kaufman, A. “Gasoline sniffing among children in a Pueblo Indian village.” Pediatrics, 1973, 51: 1060–1064.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  28. Kohn, P. M., Barnes, G. E., and Hoffman, F. M. “Drug-use history and experience seeking among adult male correctional inmates.” Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 1979, 47: 708–715.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Law, W. R., and Nelson, E. R. “Gasoline sniffing by an adult.” Journal of the American Medical Association, 1968, 204: 1002–1004.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Lawton, J. J., Jr., and Malmquist, C. P. “Gasoline addiction in children.” Psychiatric Quarterly, 1961, 35: 555–561.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Luborsky, L., Todd, T. C., and Katcher, A. H. “A self-administered social assets scale for predicting physical and psychological illness and health.” Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 1973, 17: 109–120.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Lynn, H. Gasoline sniffing among Indian children. Paper presented at the inaugural Symposium of Community Health, University of Toronto, October, 1975.Google Scholar
  33. Neal, C. D., and Thomas, M. I. “Petrol sniffing, a case study.” British Journal of Addiction, 1974, 69: 357–360.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Nitsche, C.J., and Robinson, J. F. “A case of gasoline addiction.” American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 1959, 29: 417–419.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Nurcombe, B., Bianchi, G. N., Money, J., and Cawte, J. E. “A hunger for stimuli: The psychosocial background of petrol inhalation.” British Journal of Medical Psychology, 1970, 43: 367–374.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Oldham, W. “Deliberate self-intoxication with petrol vapour.” British Medical Journal, 1961, 2: 1687–1688.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Schaefer, E. S. “Children’s reports of parental behaviour: An inventory.” Child Development, 1965, 36: 413–424.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Scott, M. A. Gasoline sniffing in Shamattawa. Medical Services, Unpublished manuscript, 1976.Google Scholar
  39. Sokol, J. Solvent abuse among juveniles. Paper presented at the International Congress on Drugs and Alcohol, Jerusalem, Israel, September 13–18, 1981.Google Scholar
  40. Stryde, W. A report on gasoline sniffing in Manitoba. Unpublished report. Winnipeg: Health Promotion Branch Regional Office, 1977.Google Scholar
  41. Tolan, E. J., and Lingl, F. A. “`Model psychosis’ produced by inhalation of gasoline fumes.” American Journal of Psychiatry, 1964, 120: 757–761.PubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gordon E. Barnes
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Family StudiesUniversity of ManitobaWinnipegCanada

Personalised recommendations