Toluene and xylene are industrial chemicals found in various solvents or other chemicals used in industry or in laboratories. They are extremely toxic, but exposure outside of industrial environments is rare.

Poisonous Ingredient 

  • toluene  
  • xylene

Where Found 

  • solvents in many rubber and plastic cements

Note: This list may not be all inclusive.


  • body as a whole       o weakness       o staggering       o tremors       o Convulsions  
  • respiratory       o rapid, shallow breathing       o chemical Pneumonia  
  • eyes, ears, nose, and throat       o blurred vision       o burning pain and damage if exposed  
  • skin       o pale       o dry and cracked if exposed  
  • gastrointestinal       o nausea and/or vomiting       o loss of appetite  
  • heart and blood vessels       o irregular heartbeat  
  • nervous system       o dizziness       o drowsiness       o nervousness       o unconsciousness       o euphoria (exaggerated feeling of well-being)       o headache

Home Treatment 
Seek emergency medical care immediately. DO NOT INDUCE VOMITING!

Before Calling Emergency 
Determine the following information:

  • the patient’s age, weight, and condition  
  • the name of the product (ingredients and strengths, if known)  
  • the time it was swallowed  
  • the amount swallowed

Poison Control, or a local emergency number 
See Poison Control centers for telephone numbers and addresses. Take the container with you to the emergency room.

What to expect at the emergency room 

Some or all of the following procedures may be performed:

  • For swallowed poison       o Immediate hemodialysis may be required for survival       o Placement of a tube down the nose and into the stomach (a nasogastric tube, or an NG tube) to wash out the stomach       o Activated charcoal administration       o Endoscopy - the placement of a camera down the throat to see the extent of burns to the esophagus and the stomach       o Give IV fluids       o Admission to the hospital       o Give an antidote       o Treat the symptoms  
  • For inhaled poisons       o A breathing tube may need to be inserted       o Oxygen       o Admission to the hospital or to the intensive care unit       o Bronchoscopy (inserting a camera down the throat into the airway to evaluate the extent of burns to the airway and lungs)  
  • For skin exposure       o Irrigation (washing of the skin), perhaps every few hours for several days       o Skin debridement (surgical removal of burned skin)       o Admission or transfer to a hospital that specializes in burn care

Expectations (prognosis) 

These chemicals are extremely toxic. Recovery and survival depend on the amount of exposure and time to treatment. Seek emergency medical care immediately.

Johns Hopkins patient information

Last revised: December 2, 2012
by Arthur A. Poghosian, M.D.

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All ArmMed Media material is provided for information only and is neither advice nor a substitute for proper medical care. Consult a qualified healthcare professional who understands your particular history for individual concerns.