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Scand J Work Environ Health. 1998;24 Suppl 2:5-9.

Toxicologic profile of acrylonitrile.

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  • Toxicology Division of TNO Nutrition and Food Research Institute, Zeist, The Netherlands. Wouterson@voeding.tno.nl


Acrylonitrile is a monomer used extensively as a raw material in the manufacturing of acrylic fibers, plastics, synthetic rubbers, and acrylamide. It has been classified as a probable human carcinogen according to the results of numerous chronic rat bioassays. The present report summarizes the toxicity data on acrylonitrile and reviews available data concerning the mechanism (genetic versus epigenetic) by which acrylonitrile is carcinogenic in rats. From the evaluation of the relevant toxicity data, it can be concluded that acrylonitrile is indeed carcinogenic to rats after either oral or inhalational exposure. However, information on other mammalian species is lacking, and, moreover, the exact mechanism of the carcinogenic process is unclear. Therefore, it is recommended to conduct an additional long-term inhalation carcinogenicity study with acrylonitrile in mice, as well as studies into the mechanism by which acrylonitrile induces (brain) tumors in rats (genetic versus epigenetic).

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