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Title: Phenol / published under the joint sponsorship of the United Nations Environment Programme, the International Labour Organisation, and the World Health Organization
Authors: World Health Organization
International Programme on Chemical Safety
Issue Date: 1994
Publisher: Geneva : World Health Organization
Language: English
Abstract: Evaluates risks to human health and the environment posed by exposure to phenol, a constituent of coal tar formed during the natural decomposition of organic materials. Phenol is the basic feedstock from which a number of commercially important materials are made, including resins, bisphenol A, caprolactam, alkyl phenols, and chlorophenols. The most important environmental emissions result from the use of phenolic resins. Phenol is also released to the environment following various combustion processes, including incineration and wood-burning fires, and has been detected in exhaust gases, cigarette smoke, and smoked meat and fish. The presence of phenol in liquid manure, and its formation following the atmospheric degradation of benzene, may contribute significantly to atmospheric levels. Because of the compound's unpleasant smell and taste, consumption of accidentally contaminated food is judged unlikely. The most extensive section summarizes toxicity data from studies in laboratory animals and in vitro test systems, including special studies of neurotoxicity, myelotoxicity, immunotoxicology, and biochemical effects. Neurotoxicity, liver and kidney damage, respiratory effects, and growth retardation were identified as the main effects of short-term exposure. An evaluation of effects on human health draws upon case reports following accidental or intentional ingestion, outbreaks of poisoning following the accidental contamination of drinking-water, and studies in occupationally exposed workers. While available data do not suggest a strong potential for cumulative health effects following chronic exposure, the report concludes that accidental high exposure can cause a number of local and systemic effects, including cardiac dysrhythmias, metabolic acidosis, hyperventilation, respiratory distress, renal damage, convulsions and other neurological effects, cardiovascular shock, coma, and death. Evidence of genotoxicity, and inadequate studies of carcinogenic potential, remain areas of concern. Concerning risks to the environment, the report cites evidence of toxicity to freshwater and marine organisms. While phenol is judged unlikely to persist or bioaccumulate in the environment, the report warns that aquatic organisms may be at risk in any surface or sea water contaminated with this compound
Description: DC.HQ
English with summary in French and Spanish
151 p.
Subject: Phenols
Environmental Exposure
Context: standards
metadata.dc.subject.other: Chemical Toxicology and Carcinogenicity
Other Identifiers: 9241571616
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