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J Emerg Med. 2008 Nov;35(4):401-6. Epub 2007 Nov 19.

Diethylene glycol: widely used solvent presents serious poisoning potential.

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  • 1Department of Emergency Medicine, State University of New York (SUNY) Upstate Medical University, Central New York Poison Center, Syracuse, New York 13210, USA.



To describe the serious toxicity of a readily available solvent, diethylene glycol (DEG). We describe a case of intentional ingestion of a wallpaper stripper containing DEG resulting in severe multi-system organ failure.


A 27-year-old male presented to the Emergency Department (ED) one day after ingesting wallpaper stripper containing DEG. He developed acidosis, renal cortical necrosis, hepatocellular injury, and severe neurologic sequelae, including cranial neuropathies and peripheral demyelinating sensori-motor polyneuropathy. His neurologic function improved over 5 months.


Our case demonstrates the severe toxicity of DEG. DEG is present in numerous formulations, often without proper protective packaging. DEG has been associated with severe epidemic poisonings in the past and with the availability of safer alternatives, DEG in consumer products should be eliminated.


DEG is found in numerous products. Delays in treatment can have devastating results, resulting in death or permanent disability. The pervasive use of this compound makes further human exposures likely.

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