Journal of applied toxicology : JAT

Triethylene glycol HO(CH2CH2O)3H.

PMID 17299811


TEG is a liquid higher glycol of very low vapor pressure with uses that are primarily industrial. It has a very low order of acute toxicity by i.v., i.p., peroral, percutaneous and inhalation (vapor and aerosol) routes of exposure. It does not produce primary skin irritation. Acute eye contact with the liquid causes mild local transient irritation (conjunctival hyperemia and slight chemosis) but does not induce corneal injury. Animal maximization and human volunteer repeated insult patch tests studies have shown that TEG does not cause skin sensitization. A study with Swiss-Webster mice demonstrated that TEG aerosol has properties of a peripheral chemosensory irritant material and caused a depression of breathing rate with an RD(50) of 5140 mg m(-3). Continuous subchronic peroral dosing of TEG in the diet of rats did not produce any systemic cumulative or long-term toxicity. The effects seen were dose-related increased relative kidney weight, increased urine volume and decreased urine pH, probably a result of the renal excretion of TEG and metabolites following the absorption of large doses of TEG. There was also decreased hemoglobin concentration, decreased hematocrit and increased mean corpuscular volume, probably due to hemodilution following absorption of TEG. The NOAEL was 20 000 ppm TEG in diet. Short-term repeated aerosol exposure studies in the rat demonstrated that, by nose-only exposure, the threshold for effects by respiratory tract exposure was 1036 mg m(-3). Neither high dosage acute nor repeated exposures to TEG produce hepatorenal injury characteristic of that caused by the lower glycol homologues. Elimination studies with acute peroral doses of TEG given to rats and rabbits showed high recoveries (91-98% over 5 days), with the major fraction appearing in urine (84-94%) and only 1% as CO(2). TEG in urine is present in unchanged and oxidized forms, but only negligible amounts as oxalic acid. Developmental toxicity studies with undiluted TEG given by gavage produced maternal toxicity in rats (body weight, food consumption, water consumption, and relative kidney weight) with a NOEL of 1126 mg kg(-1) day(-1), and mice (relative kidney weight) with a NOEL of 5630 mg kg(-1) day(-1). Developmental toxicity, expressed as fetotoxicity, had a NOEL of 5630 mg kg(-1) day(-1) with the rat and 563 mg kg(-1) day(-1) with mice. Neither species showed any evidence of embryotoxicity or teratogenicity. There was no evidence for reproductive toxicity with mice given up to 3% TEG in drinking water in a continuous breeding study. TEG did not produce mutagenic or clastogenic effects in the following in vitro genetic toxicology studies: Salmonella typhimurium reverse mutation test, SOS-chromotest in E. coli, CHO forward gene mutation test (HGPRT locus), CHO sister chromatid exchange test, and a chromosome aberration test with CHO cells. The use patterns suggest that exposure to TEG is mainly occupational, with limited exposures by consumers. Exposure is normally by skin and eye contact. Local and systemic adverse health effects by cutaneous exposure are likely not to occur, and eye contact will produce transient irritation without corneal injury. The very low vapor pressure of TEG makes it unlikely that significant vapor exposure will occur. Aerosol exposure is not a usual exposure mode, and acute aerosol exposures are unlikely to be harmful, although a peripheral sensory irritant effect may develop. However, repeated exposures to a TEG aerosol may result in respiratory tract irritation, with cough, shortness of breath and tightness of the chest. Recommended protective and precautionary measures include protective gloves, goggles or safety glasses and mechanical room ventilation. LC(50) data to various fish, aquatic invertebrates and algae, indicate that TEG is essentially nontoxic to aquatic organisms. Also, sustained exposure studies have demonstrated that TEG is of a low order of chronic aquatic toxicity. The bioconcentration potential, environmental hydrolysis, and photolysis rates are low, and soil mobility high. In the atmosphere TEG is degraded by reacting with photochemically produced hydroxyl radicals. These considerations indicate that the potential for ecotoxicological effects with TEG is low.

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