Browsing by Subject Acetonitriles

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Acetonitrile / published under the joint sponsorship of the United Nations Environment Programme, the International Labour Organisation, and the World Health Organization
World Health Organization; International Programme on Chemical Safety ( 1993 )

Evaluates the risks to human health and the environment posed by acetonitrile, a by-product of acrylonitrile manufacture which is widely used as an extractive distillation solvent in the petrochemical industry and as a solvent for polymer spinning and casting. In laboratories, acetonitrile is widely used in high-performance liquid chromatographic analysis and as a solvent for DNA synthesis and peptide sequencing. These practical uses are identified as the major source of human exposure. Concerning the effects of acetonitrile on organisms in the environment, the report concludes that this chemical has low toxicity due to its rapid volatization and biodegradation. Studies of kinetics and metabolism indicate that acetonitrile is readily absorbed by all routes and rapidly distributed throughout the body, where it is converted to cyanide. A review of studies conducted in laboratory mammals concludes that acetonitrile induces toxic effects similar to those observed in acute cyanide poisoning, with prostration followed by seizures identified as the main symptoms. No animal studies on chronic or carcinogenic effects have been reported. In humans, studies of accidental poisoning in occupationally-exposed workers have identified the symptoms and signs of acute acetonitrile intoxication as chest pain, tightness in the chest, nausea, emesis, tachycardia, hypotension, short and shallow respiration, headache, restlessness, semiconsciousness, and seizures. In view of the hazards of poisoning, the report concludes that acetonitrile and mixtures containing this chemical should be clearly labelled with a warning about danger of poisoning

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