In man, the toxic effects associated with single oral doses include central nervous system depression, muscular weakness, blistering of the gastro-intestinal tract, kidney damage and death. Benzalkonium chloride (BC) was irritant to the skin, eyes and respiratory tract of several subjects, and skin sensitization reactions have been reported. BC was of moderate acute oral toxicity in various species of laboratory animals (the main sites of toxic action being the central nervous system and gastro-intestinal tract) and of moderate acute dermal toxicity in rats. Repeated oral administration was injurious to the gastro-intestinal tract of rats, whereas lung and liver effects were seen in rabbits. There were effects on the blood, liver, kidneys, adrenals and testes following repeated dermal administration to rats. Embryotoxicity has been induced in rabbits given multiple oral doses during pregnancy although no adverse effects on reproduction were seen after oral administration to guinea-pigs and rats or dermal application to rats. Intravaginal instillation to pregnant rats caused abnormal foetal development and embryotoxicity. Limited studies revealed no evidence of carcinogenicity in rats and guinea-pigs treated orally and in mice and rabbits treated dermally. BC has caused DNA damage in two bacterial species, but displayed no genotoxicity to mammalian cells in culture and was inactive in Ames mutagenicity tests using Salmonella typhimurium bacteria. An unspecified benzalkonium salt (possibly BC) did not induce chromosome damage (micronuclei) in the bone marrow of mice treated by intraperitoneal injection. BC was irritant to the skin, eyes and mucous membranes of laboratory animals. Skin sensitization has been induced in guinea-pigs and mice.

Date of Publication: 1989

Number of Pages: 10

CAS Number*: 8001-54-5







Format: PDF available for immediate download

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