Aliphatic hydrocarbons are open-chain compounds that may be saturated or unsaturated. The saturated compounds, known as paraffin hydrocarbons or alkanes, include methane and its homologs having the empirical formula CnH2n+2. The unsaturated compounds fall into a number of homologous series: (1) those containing one double bond (ethylene and its homologs) and having the formula CnH2n are known as olefins or alkenes; (2) those containing one triple bond (acetylene and its homologs) are called acetylenes or alkynes and have the formula CnH2n-2'; (3) those having two double bonds (allene, 1,3-butadiene and 1,4-pentadiene represent three types) are diolefins or alkadienes and also have the formula CnH2n-2'; (4) those having a large number of double or triple bonds or both double and triple bonds are named in analogous fashion as alkatrienes, alkatetraenes, alkadiynes, alkenynes, and alkadienynes. Aliphatic hydrocarbons are asphyxiants and central nervous system (CNS) depressants. Serious toxic effects of aliphatic hydrocarbons include asphyxia and chemical pneumonitis for many paraffins, axonal neuropathy for n-hexane, and cancer for 1,3-butadiene.
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