CAS RN:121-44-8

Toxicity Summary

IDENTIFICATION AND USE: Triethylamine (TEA) is a colorless liquid. It is used as catalytic solvent in chemical synthesis; accelerator activators for rubber; wetting, penetrating, and waterproofing agents of quaternary ammonium types; curing and hardening of polymers; corrosion inhibitor; propellant. HUMAN EXPOSURE AND TOXICITY: Aside from irritation of the eyes and respiratory tract, triethylamine also stimulates the central nervous system, because it inhibits monamine oxidase. Experimental studies were conducted in four healthy men on the metabolism of inhaled TEA (20 mg/cu m) with and without ethanol ingestion. Three subjects displayed visual disturbances in the experiments without ethanol. These same subjects did not experience any visual disturbances in those experiments containing ethanol. In another study, four hour exposure to a TEA concentration of 3.0 mg/cu m seemed to cause no effects, whereas exposure to 6.5 mg/cu m for the same period caused blurred vision and a decrease in contrast sensitivity. Two volunteers were exposed to various airborne concentrations of triethylamine. Levels of 18 mg/cu m for eight hours caused subjective visual disturbances (haze and halos) and objective corneal edema. The effects faded within hours after the end of exposure. A cross-sectional study of visual disturbances was conducted in 19 workers (13 men, 6 women, mean age 45) employed in a polyurethane foam production plant. Visual disturbances (foggy vision, blue haze, and sometimes halo phemomena) were reported by 5 workers. Symptoms were associated with work operations with the highest exposure to triethylamine (TWA= 12-13 mg/cu m). ANIMAL STUDIES: TEA irritates the mucous membranes and the respiratory tract. In concentrations of 156 ppm a 50% decrease of the respiratory rate in rats was found. A 70% solution applied on the skin of guinea pigs caused prompt skin burns leading to necrosis; when held in contact with guinea pig skin for 2 hr, there was severe skin irritation with extensive necrosis and deep scarring. Five cat eyes and 1 monkey eye were exposed to triethylamine. Animals were exposed to triethylamine at rates of 0.45-0.85 mmol triethylamine/5 min for periods ranging from 1 to 5 min. Corneal epithelial damage occurred at all doses and was severe at higher concentrations. In all cases the epithelium was healed by day 4. Optical discontinuities of the stroma similar to those seen in human patients were observed at all dose levels. Convulsions observed in all rats given oral dosages of 50 mg or more. Triethylamine was tested on 3 day old chicken embryos. Malformations observed were: small eye cup 31%, defects of lids and cornea 73%, defects of beak 4%, encephalocoele or skin pimple in head 23%, open coelom 35%, short back or neck 42%, defects of wings 38%, and edema and lymph blebs 4%. Triethylamine was tested for mutagenicity in the Salmonella/microsome preincubation assay. Triethylamine was tested at doses of 0, 100, 333, 1000, 3333, and 10,000 ug/plate in four Salmonella typhimurium strains (TA98, TA100, TA1535, and TA1537) in the presence and absence of metabolic activation. Triethylamine was negative in these tests.
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