Acetic acid is a normal body metabolite in mammals and occurs naturally in a variety of foods. In rodents, the acute oral toxicity of the acid and of its sodium, potassium and calcium salts was low, while zinc acetate was of moderate toxicity. On single oral exposure in humans, the acid has caused corrosion in the mouth, throat and gastrointestinal tract, respiratory problems and kidney damage. Limited feeding studies in rats revealed no consistent adverse effects for acetic acid, but zinc acetate evidently caused kidney damage. Single exposure to the hot acid vapour caused local irritation to the mucous membranes and adverse effects on lung function in man. Repeated inhalation of the acid caused signs of kidney damage in rats. There was no conclusive evidence of reproductive effects in rabbits fed acetic acid during pregnancy, in mice ingesting sodium acetate, or in rats ingesting zinc acetate. The action of carcinogens has been enhanced by acetic acid in rats exposed orally, in mice treated dermally and in hamsters on buccal application. In Ames bacterial assays, acetic acid and its sodium and zinc salts gave no evidence of mutagenicity. However, both positive and negative results have been reported in a wide range of other genotoxicity screening assays using acetic acid and its salts. Concentrated acetic acid is extremely irritating and corrosive to the skin, eyes and mucous membranes, and even dilute solutions may cause severe eye damage in man. Skin sensitization and asthma-like reactions have been reported in some individuals exposed to acetic acid and occasionally, after ingestion, it has caused other systemic allergic reactions. Zinc acetate produced skin irritation in laboratory animals and sodium diacetate induced severe eye damage in rabbits.

Date of Publication: 1993

Number of Pages: 22

CAS Number*: 64-19-7






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