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Crit Rev Toxicol. 2008;38(9):805-15. doi: 10.1080/10408440802237698 .

Risk assessment of toxaphene and its breakdown products: time for a change?

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The Weinberg Group, Washington, DC, USA.


Technical toxaphene (TT) was last used in commerce in about 1982. Any environmental exposure to toxaphene in this century is to environmentally degraded forms of toxaphene, termed weathered toxaphene. Several hundred chlorinated bornane congeners have been identified in technical toxaphene. The degradation of technical toxaphene to weathered toxaphene can result in various congener mixtures, but the primary mode of degradation is dechlorination. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) presently estimates the risk of exposure to toxaphene by relying upon rat and mouse toxicology studies performed on technical toxaphene. No adjustment is made for the dechlorination of toxaphene in the environment. The European Union (EU), however, has modeled toxaphene risks from eating fish with chlorinated bornane residues through a series of studies on toxaphene degraded by either ultraviolet light, or biodegradation in fish. The EU risk assessment relies upon rat liver studies in vivo and mouse in vitro studies on the inhibition of gap junction intercellular communication (GJIC). This article reviews the current state of knowledge of technical and weathered toxaphene toxicology. We discuss the various current methods and opportunities to advance the risk assessment of weathered toxaphene beyond the existing U.S. EPA assessment of technical toxaphene.

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