Naphthalene

CAS RN: 91-20-3

Carcinogenicity Evidence

WEIGHT-OF-EVIDENCE CHARACTERIZATION: Using criteria of the 1986 Guidelines for Carcinogen Risk Assessment, naphthalene is classified in group C, a possible human carcinogen. This is based on the inadequate data of carcinogenicity in humans exposed to naphthalene via the oral and inhalation routes, and the limited evidence of carcinogenicity in animals via the inhalation route. Using the 1996 Proposed Guidelines for Carcinogen Risk Assessment, the human carcinogenic potential of naphthalene via the oral or inhalation routes "cannot be determined" at this time based on human and animal data; however, there is suggestive evidence (observations of benign respiratory tumors and one carcinoma in female mice only exposed to naphthalene by inhalation). Additional support includes increase in respiratory tumors associated with exposure to 1-methylnaphthalene. At the present time the mechanism whereby naphthalene produces benign respiratory tract tumors are not fully understood, but are hypothesized to involve oxygenated reactive metabolites produced via the cytochrome P-450 monooxygenase system. However, based on the many negative results obtained in genotoxicity tests, a genotoxic mechanism appears unlikely.
HUMAN CARCINOGENICITY DATA: Available data are inadequate to establish a causal association between exposure to naphthalene and cancer in humans. Adequately scaled epidemiological studies designed to examine a possible association between naphthalene exposure and cancer were not located. Overall, no data are available to evaluate the carcinogenic potential in exposed human populations.
A3: Confirmed animal carcinogen with unknown relevance to humans.
Evaluation: There is inadequate evidence in humans for the carcinogenicity of naphthalene. There is sufficient evidence in experimental animals for the carcinogenicity of naphthalene. Overall evaluation: Naphthalene is possibly carcinogenic to humans (Group 2B).
Naphthalene is reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen based on sufficient evidence from studies in experimental animals.
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