Toluene, an industrial solvent in adhesive compound is the most commonly abused inhalant among street children in Metro Manila. This study aims to determine the physiologic effects of inhaling toluene on the respiratory function of the study population.
General health status was assessed by history, physical examination and a questionnaire with emphasis on the respiratory symptoms. Spirometry using a Microloop (Micro Medical Limited) was performed using the standards of the American Thoracic Society.
Thirty one (31) street children, 26 (84%)males, 5 (61%) females, with a mean age of 14+/-2 years were included. The mean duration of drug use is 2.6 +/- 2.5 years with a frequency of 23 +/- 20 hr per week. The most common respiratory symptoms in this series include dyspnea (38.7%, cough (35.5%), rhinorrhea (29%)and choking (12.9%). Results of spirometric studies showed 13 (41.9%)subjects with low FVC values < 80% of predicted indicative of restrictive ventilatory pattern in patients who tested positive for toluene in the blood. FEV1 values were all normal (mean FEV1 89+/- 14.9%). There was a statistically significant correlation between the duration/frequency of inhalant abuse with toluene levels in the blood (p=0.04) and urine (p=0.006).
This study has shown a positive correlation between toluene abuse by inhalation and the development of restrictive ventilatory pattern which is directly related to the frequency and duration of toluene inhalation.
Solvent abuse is popular among children and young adults. Sniffing the fumes causes the hunger, pain and loneliness to be numbed for a moment providing escape from realities of life. It is now well recognized that solvent abuse not only can result in sudden death but also cause pathological changes in the lungs. It is therefore, the aim of this study to investigate the effects of Toluene exposure on the pulmonary function of these children.
Fatima Pogoy, Other Philippine Foundation for Lung Health Research and Development, Inc.research and Development, Inc.