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Toxicology. 1996 Dec 18;114(3):207-21.

The carcinogenicity of dichloroacetic acid in the male Fischer 344 rat.

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National Health and Environmental Effects Research Laboratory, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Research Triangle Park, NC 27711, USA.


The chlorinated acetic acids, in particular dichloroacetic acid (DCA), are found as chlorine disinfection by-products in finished drinking water supplies. DCA has previously been demonstrated to be a mouse liver carcinogen. Chronic studies are described in which male Fischer (F344) rats were exposed to DCA in their drinking water. In the first study, 28 day old rats were exposed to a regimen of 0.05, 0.5 and 5.0 g/l DCA. When animals in the high dose group began to exhibit peripheral hind leg neuropathy, the dose was lowered in stages to 1 g/l. These animals were sacrificed at 60 weeks due to the severe, irreversible neuropathy and were not included in this analysis. The remaining groups of animals were treated for 100 weeks. In the second study, rats were initially exposed to 2.5 g/l DCA which was lowered to 1 g/l after 18 weeks. The mean daily concentration (MDC) of 1.6 g/l was calculated over the 103 week exposure period. Time-weighted mean daily doses (MDD) based on measured water consumption were 3.6, 40.2 and 139 mg/kg bw/day for the 0.05, 0.5 and 1.6 g/l DCA respectively. Based upon the pathologic examination, DCA induced observable signs of toxicity in the nervous system, liver and myocardium. However, treatment related neoplastic lesions were observed only in the liver. A statistically significant increase of carcinogenicity (hepatocellular carcinoma) was noted at 1.6 g/l DCA. Exposure to 0.5 g/l DCA increased-hepatocellular neoplasia, (carcinoma and adenoma) at 100 weeks. These data demonstrate that DCA is an hepatocarcinogen to the male F344 rat. Calculation of the MDD at which 50% of the animals exhibited liver neoplasia indicated that the F344 male rat (approximately 10 mg/kg bw/day) is ten times more sensitive than the B6C3F1 male mouse (approximately 100 mg/kg bw/day). A "no observed effects level' (NOEL) of 0.05 g/l (3.6 mg/kg/day) was the same as for the mouse (3-8 mg/kg/day).

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