Chronic lead poisoning: induced psychosis in an adult?

Am J Forensic Med Pathol. 2002 Mar;23(1):101.

[PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]
Neurology. 1978 May;28(5):507-10.

Acute and chronic progressive encephalopathy due to gasoline sniffing.


Acute encephalopathy caused by gasoline sniffing is well recognized, but has been thought to be completely reversible. We report a patient who developed a progressive encephalopathy characterized by ataxia, tremor and dementia following repeated, deliberate gasoline inhalation. Blood and urine lead levels were consistently elevated and at autopsy, the formalin-fixed brain lead content was between 5200 and 6500 micrograms/100 gm of tissue. This case shows that repeated gasoline sniffing can result in irreversible encephalopathy and that both the acute and chronic encephalopathy probably result from organic lead intoxication and not from the gasoline itself.


Can Med Assoc J. 1982 Dec 15;127(12):1195-7.

Gasoline sniffing and lead encephalopathy.


Gasoline sniffing is endemic in northern Manitoba and perhaps throughout much of northern Canada. Its most serious complication is lead encephalopathy, which can be fatal. Most of the toxic effects are thought to be due to tetraethyl lead and its metabolites. The specific treatment is chelation therapy, for which a protocol has been developed at the Health Sciences Centre, Winnipeg. Lead encephalopathy, however, is a manifestation of social, cultural and psychologic malaise.

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