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Toxicity of 2,6-di-tert-butyl-4-nitrophenol (DBNP).

Alexander WK; Briggs GB; Still KR; Jederberg WW; MacMahon K; Baker WH; Mackerer C
Appl Occup Environ Hyg 2001 Apr; 16(4):487-495
U.S. Navy submarines reported a yellowing of metal surfaces on their internal surfaces. The yellowing was initially identified on the painted steel bulkheads but further examination indicated that it was not limited to steel surfaces and included bedding, thread tape, Formica, plastisol covered hand-wheels, and aluminum lockers. Crew members also reported to the medical department that their skin turned yellow when they came in contact with these contaminated surfaces and requested information on the effects of exposure. Studies conducted by General Dynamics' Electric Boat Division (EBD) determined that the agent was 2,6-Di-tertbutyl-4-Nitrophenol (DBNP). 2,6-Di-butylphenol (DBP) is an antioxidant additive used in lubricating oils and hydraulic fluids. In the enclosed atmosphere of a submarine, the oil mist could be spread throughout the boat by venting the lube oil to the atmosphere. Submarines use electrostatic precipitators (ESP) to clean the air of particulate materials. During passage through the ESP, oil mist containing DBP is nitrated to DBNP,which is then moved throughout the boat in the ventilation system. Analysis of the EBD data indicated 24-hour exposure concentrations to be in the range of < 3.0 to 122 ppb in the laboratory and submarine settings. Submarine crews may be exposed to these concentrations for as many as 24 hours/day for 90 days during underway periods. Toxicity studies regarding the oral and dermal uptake of DBNP were conducted. From the literature the lethal dose to 50 percent of the population (LD50) of DBNP (rat) was reported by Vesselinovitch et al. in 1961 to be 500 mg/kg. Our studies indicated that the LD50 is in the range of 80 mg/kg in the rat. Our work also includes dermal absorption studies, which indicated that DBNP is not well absorbed through intact skin. Within this study, no no-observable adverse effect level (NOAEL) or lowest observable adverse effect level (LOAEL) was identified. Calculation of a reference dose was completed using standard methods based on the LD50 as a numerator with several uncertainty and modifying factors. EBD's determination of airborne concentrations aboard submarines fall in the range of these anticipated allowable concentrations and could indicate significant chronic exposures. No adverse effects from DBNP exposures have been reported to date.
Occupational-exposure; Skin-irritants; Antioxidants; Antioxidation; Lubricating-oils; Hydraulic-fluids; Oils; Oil-mists; Air-contamination; Electrostatic-precipitators; Ventilation-systems; Ventilation; Laboratory-testing; Exposure-levels; Exposure-assessment; Author Keywords: DBNP; Submarine; DBNP Toxicity; DBP
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Journal Article
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Applied Occupational and Environmental Hygiene
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division