Environmental health perspectives

Comparative inhalation teratogenicity of four glycol ether solvents and an amino derivative in rats.

PMID 6499812


Previous research demonstrated the inhalation teratogenicity of the solvent 2-ethoxyethanol in rats and rabbits. As this is one of a class of widely used industrial solvents, we investigated the teratogenicity of five structurally related compounds. Each chemical was vaporized and administered to approximately 15 pregnant rats in one to three concentrations for 7 hr/day on gestation days 7 to 15, and dams were sacrificed on day 20. Fetuses were individually weighed, and two-thirds of them were fixed in Bouin's solution and examined for soft-tissue anomalies. The other one-third were fixed in alcohol, stained with Alizarin Red and examined for skeletal defects. Data were analyzed on a litter basis; three solvents were compared with a pooled group (N = 34) of sham-exposed controls, and the remaining two were compared with a group of 15 controls. At concentrations which were apparently not maternally toxic, 2-methoxyethanol was highly embryotoxic, producing complete resorptions at 200 ppm; increased resorptions, reduced fetal weights and skeletal and cardiovascular defects occurred at both 100 and 50 ppm. 2-ethoxyethyl acetate at 600 ppm induced complete resorption of litters; 390 ppm reduced fetal weights and induced skeletal and cardiovascular defects, but only a single defect was observed at 130 ppm. 2-Butoxyethanol evidenced slight maternal toxicity at 200 ppm but produced no increase in congenital defects at that concentration. Neither 2-(2-ethoxyethoxy)ethanol (100 ppm) nor 2-methylaminoethanol (150 ppm) was maternally toxic or embryotoxic. In summary, shorter alkyl chained glycol ethers produced greater embryotoxicity than those having longer chains, and the ester produced effects equivalent to the ether, both patterns predictable from the biochemical literature.