Recent literature pertaining to an occupational health standard for epichlorohydrin (106898) (ECH) is reviewed. Results of recent research on ECH toxicity suggest potential human carcinogenicity. An increase in the number of respiratory cancer deaths and leukemias among ECH exposed workers has been reported. A latency period of about 15 years has been suggested by investigative studies. Cytogenetic studies in human lymphocytes have shown an increased chromosome aberration associated with occupational exposure to ECH. Researchers have identified ECH as a potent carcinogen to the nasal turbinates of rats upon inhalation of 100 parts per million (ppm). Detailed inhalation studies have shown that ECH inhaled at concentrations of 25, 50, or 100ppm has a substantial effect on nasal tissue in rats and mice. Varying degrees of renal toxicity have been evident in rats, but not in mice. Cytogenetic studies with rodent lymphocytes have shown increased chromosomal aberrations induced by ECH. The animal studies and human cytogenetic data may be questioned because of the use of certain types of culture media. NIOSH has recently recommended that ECH be considered a human carcinogen and that controls and work practices be undertaken to substantially minimize occupational exposure to ECH.
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