A case of lethal poisoning due to trichlorofluoromethane (FC11) inhalation is described. The fluorocarbon was determined in biological tissues by headspace gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. FC11 was detected in all the examined tissues, with decreasing levels in heart, lung, brain, liver, blood, kidney, and spleen. The highest concentration measured in heart could be related to the mode of toxic action of fluorocarbons postulated by many authors, characterized by the sensitization of the myocardium to the catecholamines producing arrhythmia and cardiac arrest. Nevertheless the aspecific picture of the anatomo-pathological and histological findings does not exclude that the described accidental fatality may have been caused by the combination of direct freon toxicity with hypoxemic asphyxiation, due to the saturation of the atmosphere by FC11 in the closed environment in which the intoxication occurred.
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