Ethylene Oxide

CAS RN:75-21-8

Health Effects

0.2.1 SUMMARY OF EXPOSURE
  • 0.2.1.1 ACUTE EXPOSURE
    • A) Early signs and symptoms of exposure to ethylene oxide (ETO) may include eye, nose, and throat irritation and noticing a sweet or peculiar taste in the mouth.
    • B) Delayed effects may include headache, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, dyspnea, cough, weakness, lethargy, numbness, incoordination and vertigo. Acute effects such as pneumonia, pulmonary edema, respiratory failure, asthma, cardiac arrhythmias, seizures, allergic reaction, paralysis and coma may also be seen.
    • C) Direct contact with the eye can cause severe ocular damage. Direct dermal contact with the gas or liquid ethylene oxide can cause blistering, severe chemical burns and tissue necrosis. Evaporation of the liquid from the skin may cause frostbite.
    • D) Occupational exposure to ethylene oxide may be linked with spontaneous abortions and other adverse reproductive effects. ETO is known to cause cancer in laboratory animals and is a probable human carcinogen. Leukemia and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma have been primarily associated with ETO. Cases of Hodgkin's disease, stomach, breast and pancreatic cancer, lymphosarcoma and reticulosarcoma have also been reported.
    • E) CNS and musculoskeletal abnormalities have been reported in the offspring of laboratory animals.
0.2.3 VITAL SIGNS
  • 0.2.3.1 ACUTE EXPOSURE
    • A) Pulmonary irritation is likely after inhalation; dyspnea may occur.
0.2.4 HEENT
  • 0.2.4.1 ACUTE EXPOSURE
    • A) Ocular irritation and conjunctivitis may be seen on splash contact with the eyes. ETO has been implicated as a causal agent for the formation of cataracts.
    • B) Irritation of eyes, nose and throat, as well as a peculiar taste, are the early symptoms of ethylene oxide exposure.
0.2.5 CARDIOVASCULAR
  • 0.2.5.1 ACUTE EXPOSURE
    • A) Ethylene oxide has no appreciable effect on the cardiovascular system until respiratory compromise is serious enough to cause anoxia.
0.2.6 RESPIRATORY
  • 0.2.6.1 ACUTE EXPOSURE
    • A) Pulmonary irritation is a common symptom after inhalation. Pulmonary edema may be seen with acute exposures. Pneumonia may be a complication of ethylene oxide exposure. A rare report of asthma has also been reported.
0.2.7 NEUROLOGIC
  • 0.2.7.1 ACUTE EXPOSURE
    • A) Convulsive movements, twitching, malaise, lethargy, headache, seizures, and dizziness have been reported. Serious exposure may result in coma. Chronic exposure may result in peripheral and central nervous system effects, including neuropsychiatric symptoms, cognitive dysfunction, and polyneuropathies.
  • 0.2.7.2 CHRONIC EXPOSURE
    • A) Various polyneuropathies, memory impairment, and mood changes have been reported after chronic exposure.
0.2.8 GASTROINTESTINAL
  • 0.2.8.1 ACUTE EXPOSURE
    • A) Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea may occur.
0.2.10 GENITOURINARY
  • 0.2.10.1 ACUTE EXPOSURE
    • A) Severe cases of ethylene oxide exposure may result in renal damage.
0.2.13 HEMATOLOGIC
  • 0.2.13.1 ACUTE EXPOSURE
    • A) Severe cases of ethylene oxide exposure may result in cyanosis.
    • B) Anemia developed in rats after chronic exposure.
0.2.14 DERMATOLOGIC
  • 0.2.14.1 ACUTE EXPOSURE
    • A) Pure anhydrous ETO does not injure dry skin, but solutions have a vesicant action. Exposure to the liquid or gas may cause irritation or burns to moist skin. ETO may also cause contact dermatitis, allergic contact dermatitis, thermal burns, frostbite, edema, erythema, vesiculation, blebs, and desquamation.
0.2.20 REPRODUCTIVE HAZARDS
  • A) Ethylene oxide has been fetotoxic and teratogenic in experimental animals.
0.2.21 CARCINOGENICITY
  • 0.2.21.1 IARC CATEGORY
    • A) IARC Carcinogenicity Ratings for CAS75-21-8 (International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), 2016; International Agency for Research on Cancer, 2015; IARC Working Group on the Evaluation of Carcinogenic Risks to Humans, 2010; IARC Working Group on the Evaluation of Carcinogenic Risks to Humans, 2010a; IARC Working Group on the Evaluation of Carcinogenic Risks to Humans, 2008; IARC Working Group on the Evaluation of Carcinogenic Risks to Humans, 2007; IARC Working Group on the Evaluation of Carcinogenic Risks to Humans, 2006; IARC, 2004):
      • 1) IARC Classification
        • a) Listed as: Ethylene oxide
        • b) Carcinogen Rating: 1
      • 1) The agent (mixture) is carcinogenic to humans. The exposure circumstance entails exposures that are carcinogenic to humans. This category is used when there is sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity in humans. Exceptionally, an agent (mixture) may be placed in this category when evidence of carcinogenicity in humans is less than sufficient but there is sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity in experimental animals and strong evidence in exposed humans that the agent (mixture) acts through a relevant mechanism of carcinogenicity.
  • 0.2.21.2 HUMAN OVERVIEW
    • A) Ethylene oxide has been linked with leukemia, stomach, brain and pancreatic cancer, lymphatic cancer, hematopoietic cancer, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and Hodgkin disease.
    • B) The evidence for human and animal carcinogenicity and for genotoxicity has been extensively reviewed (Their & Bolt, 2000).
  • 0.2.21.3 ANIMAL OVERVIEW
    • A) Ethylene oxide is an animal carcinogen, and can induce similar types of cancers to those seen in humans in experimental animals (Anon, 1994).
0.2.22 GENOTOXICITY
  • A) MUTAGENIC effects due to ethylene oxide exposure have been shown in non-mammalian animals. Many of the observed mutagenic effects are a result of high dose/short term exposure (Sheikh, 1984). Case studies indicate ethylene oxide is fetotoxic (Sheikh, 1984). In man, cytogenetic studies have shown increases in sister chromatid exchanges, ethylene oxide-hemoglobin adducts, micronuclei, chromosomal aberrations and DNA strand breaks in those exposed to ethylene oxide (ACGIH, 1991; Baselt, 2000; Mayer et al, 199
    • 1) Schulte, 1995; (Landrigan et al, 1984).
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