A fatal intoxication by chloroprene
Authors: Rickert, A; Hartung, B; Kardel, B; Teloh, J; Daldrup, T
Forensic Science International 215:110-113.
HERO ID: 1788018
Objective: Chloroprene, 2-chloro-1,3 butadiene, is a volatile synthetic liquid. The chloroprene monomer . . .
Objective: Chloroprene, 2-chloro-1,3 butadiene, is a volatile synthetic liquid. The chloroprene monomer is extremely reactive and is used for the production of latexes and synthetic rubber such as Neoprene. Up to now an acute lethal human exposure has been described only once in the literature . The intoxication is associated with nervous system depression, pulmonary edema, narcosis, and respiratory arrest.
Case report: A 29-year-old chemistry company worker was found unconscious in an empty vessel (depth: 3m) used for chloroprene. The man was dressed in shoes, trousers, a helmet and a respiratory mask. The upper part of the body was unclothed. In spite of reanimation, the man died three hours later in a hospital.
Material and methods: All analyses were performed by headspace gas chromatography (HS/GC/FID). In addition, brain, muscle and myocardial muscle were analysed by headspace GC-MS.
Results and discussion: Autopsy findings: The cause of death could not be determined as the macromorphological findings were unspecific.
Toxicology findings: The calibration curve of chloroprene in serum shows linearity from 1.0 to 200 μg/ml (r(2)=0.9999) using benzene as internal standard. The LOD is 0.28 μg/ml, the LLOQ is 0.99 μg/ml. Tissues and body fluids were stored at -20 °C till the analysis. Chloroprene was quantified after addition of benzene as the internal standard. It was found in nearly all tissues and body fluids except in the urine and lung. The highest concentrations were detected in the kidney, liver, myocardial muscle and especially in the brain. Furthermore, hexanal was found in all samples except in the urine. The amount of hexanal in some specimens is high, especially in the lung, bile, gastric content and myocardial muscle.
Conclusion: We assume that a significant amount of chloroprene was not only inhaled but also absorbed through the skin because the man wore a respiratory mask. Presumably the accident would not have happened if the works safety protocols had been followed. The reason why high concentrations of hexanal were found in the tissues could not be clarified.