Nitrobenzene May be Listed by California’s EPA as Known to Cause Reproductive Toxicity

March 10, 2010 5091 users 0 Category: Chemical

California's EPA (CalEPA) Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) has issued a notice of intent to list nitrobenzene as a chemical known to cause reproductive toxicity (affecting particularly male reproductive system). March 1, 2010 marked the end of the public comment period related to this notice of intent.

Listing nitrobenzene as known to cause reproductive toxicity implies that the following 2 criteria are met:

  1. An authoritative body formally identifies the chemical as causing reproductive toxicity
  2. The evidence considered by the authoritative body meets the sufficiency criteria contained in the regulations

Background Information on Nitrobenzene and Its Toxicity

Nitrobenzene is a chemical (organic compound) used in chemical synthesis as a precursor to aniline (approx. 95% of nitrobenzene use). It is also occasionally used as a solvent and as flavor in perfume (it is oily and has an almond-like odor). It also occurs in shoe and metal polishes and soaps. Some special industrial uses are also known (but accounting for a very small percent of nitrobenzene use).

In high amounts, nitrobenzene is known to be a chemical pollutant. People may get exposed to nitrobenzene mainly through skin absorption (since it readily absorbs through the skin) and through inhalation of its emitted vapors or fumes (since it is a volatile compound). Ingestion is another exposure pathway, although less common.

Until recently, the?toxicity of nitrobenzene t the reproductive system was not pointed out (before this notice of intent). So far, nitrobenzene toxicity is linked to the following various health effects:

  • damage to central nervous system (due to prolonged exposure)
  • damage of liver or kidney
  • irritation of lung
  • anemia
  • impaired vision
  • some common health problems including: headache, dizziness, fatigue, nausea, weakness in the arms and legs - could be due to exposure to the fumes of nitrobenzene (through inhalation)
  • increase health rate and convulsions - may be caused by skin absorption of nitrobenzene
  • vomiting and gastrointestinal irritation may be caused by ingestion of nitrobenzene

In very rare cases prolonged exposure to nitrobenzene may be fatal.