Petrol sniffing interventions among Australian Indigenous communities through product substitution: from skunk juice to Opal Academic Article uri icon


  • Inhalation of petrol (gasoline) fumes has been prevalent in some Australian Indigenous communities since World War II, and has led to a continuing quest for an effective method of preventing the practice either by modifying the substance or by substituting nonharmful alternatives. This article traces the results of this search, beginning with the addition of ethyl mercaptan, then describing the substitution of aviation fuel for conventional vehicle fuel, and concluding with the staged introduction of Opal--a vehicle fuel containing low levels of aromatic hydrocarbons--throughout many communities from 2005. The article assesses the benefits and limitations of supply reduction methods.

publication date

  • 2011