Introduction

Hydrocarbons are a diverse group of organic compounds consisting primarily of carbon and hydrogen atoms arranged in various aliphatic and aromatic configurations. Products containing hydrocarbons are found in many household and occupational settings. Examples include fuels, lighter fluids, lamp oil, paints, paint removers, cleaning and polishing agents, spot removers, degreasers, lubricants, and solvents. Volatile liquid chemicals or gases are substances sometimes abused for their euphoric effects. Examples of commonly abused volatiles include many hydrocarbon-containing substances such as glue (which contains toluene), propellants (e.g., butane, trichloroethylene, Freon), and gasoline. Other volatile chemicals not generally classified as hydrocarbons, such as nitrites (e.g., isobutyl nitrite) and nitrous oxide, are also subject to abuse. Hydrocarbon and volatile substance exposure may cause life-threatening toxicity and, in some cases, sudden death.

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