Isopropanol (CH3CHOHCH3), also known as isopropyl alcohol and 2-propanol, is commonly found in the home as rubbing alcohol. It is also used widely in industry as a solvent and disinfectant and is a component of a variety of skin and hair products, jewelry cleaners, detergents, paint thinners, and antifreeze. Poisoning usually results from ingestion but may also occur after inhalation in poorly ventilated areas—for example, during alcohol sponge bathing. Toxicity occurring after administration of an isopropanol enema has also been reported. Its principal metabolite, acetone, does not cause the eye, kidney, cardiac, or metabolic toxicity caused by the metabolites of methanol and ethylene glycol.
Isopropanol is approximately twice as potent as ethanol in causing central nervous system depression and has a duration of two to four times that of ethanol. As a result it is on occasion utilized as a substitute intoxicant by alcoholics as well as in suicide attempts. After ethanol, it is the second most commonly ingested alcohol. It is more toxic than ethanol, though considerably less so than methanol or ethylene glycol.
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