“Tirados” (Thrown Away) is a feature length documentary currently in production whose focus is the plight of children and adolescents
who are addicted to a potent industrial glue containing the chemical toluene. The documentary
location is an unspecified but well known South American city (not named for safety concerns
until production is finished) currently experiencing a toluene
inhalant abuse epidemic. Utilizing observational mode, the documentary follows a group of children and adolescents as young as ten who routinely
inhale toluene, as they try to negotiate
the city’s mean streets.
Toluene, it should be noted, is an organic solvent that has many industrial applications. Its primary use
is to dissolve things such as paint, thinners and various industrial adhesives. However it has the
unfortunate ability to produce a narcotic like high when inhaled. When used as a drug its effects
are very powerful, capable of doing massive harm to human tissue—especially brain matter. It is
also extremely addictive. Because it is very cheap and easily available, it is abused in places
where high rates of poverty and unemployment are the norm—particularly by young children. The
abuse of toluene has a particular affinity for other social evils such as child homelessness and
child prostitution which combine to form a miserable cycle of dependency, poverty and exploitation.
The film’s intent is to present this widespread and growing international problem on a very personal
scale by cultivating empathy for its sufferers—especially girls, who are more often
sexually exploited as addicts. The film actively explores salient factors to drive meaningful change;
Tirados qualifies the dangers of Toluene, examines the conditions that allow the epidemic to rage and
presents the specific challenges. The film culminates by exploring effective intervention/prevention programs
around the world in order to save these thrown away children.