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Fundam Appl Toxicol. 1987 Oct;9(3):512-21.

Dimethylethanolamine: acute, 2-week, and 13-week inhalation toxicity studies in rats.

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Bushy Run Research Center, Union Carbide Corporation, Export, Pennsylvania 15632.


Dimethylethanolamine (DMEA) is a volatile, water-soluble amine that has applications in the chemical and pharmaceutical industries. These studies evaluated the acute and subchronic inhalation toxicity of DMEA. Acute (4-hr) exposures of Wistar rats to DMEA vapor resulted in an LC50 value (95% confidence limits) of 1641 (862-3125) ppm. Clinical signs of nasal and ocular irritation, respiratory distress, and body weight loss were observed in rats exposed to 1668 ppm DMEA and higher. In the 2-week study, F-344 rats exposed to 98, 288, or 586 ppm DMEA for 9 days (6 hr/day) during an 11-day period also exhibited signs of respiratory and ocular irritation (except the 98 ppm group). All animals of the 586 ppm group and 4 of 15 male rats of the 288 ppm group died. Body weight values for the 288 ppm group were reduced to about 75% of preexposure values, while the 98 ppm group gained 35% less weight than controls. Statistically significant differences in clinical pathology parameters (288 ppm group) and in organ weight values (288 and 98 ppm groups) probably resulted from the decreased food consumption and not from specific target organ toxicity. In the groups evaluated histologically (the 98 and 288 ppm groups) the eye and nasal mucosa were the primary target organs. In the 13-week subchronic study, F-344 rats were exposed to 0, 8, 24, or 76 ppm DMEA for 6 hr/day, 5 days/week for 13 weeks. The principal exposure-related changes were transient corneal opacity in the 24 and 76 ppm groups; decreased body weight gain for the 76 ppm group; and histopathologic lesions of the respiratory and olfactory epithelium of the anterior nasal cavity of the 76 ppm group and of the eye of several 76 ppm group females. Rats maintained for a 5-week recovery period only exhibited histological lesions of the nasal tissue, with the lesions being decreased in incidence and severity. DMEA acts primarily as an ocular and upper respiratory tract irritant and toxicant at vapor concentrations of 76 ppm, while 24 ppm or less produced no biologically significant toxicity in rats. Thus, 24 ppm was considered to be the no-observable-effect level.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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