Butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) was a skin irritant in man and rabbits. It has caused skin sensitization in man and, when ingested by some individuals, has provoked intolerant reactions of the respiratory tract or recurrence of existing skin conditions. BHT had a moderate to low acute oral toxicity in rats, mice and hamsters, and a low acute dermal toxicity was demonstrated in one rabbit. Liver effects (including increased enzyme activity and cellular effects) have been reported in rats, mice and monkeys exposed orally. Other sites of toxic attack in rodents ingesting BHT included the kidneys, lungs, spleen, heart and blood. Multiple applications to the skin of mice caused lung damage. Repeated oral administration has given no conclusive evidence of foetal malformations in rats, mice, hamsters, rabbits or monkeys, though single studies have found increases in offspring mortality rates in rats, mice and rabbits. Rats exposed to BHT in utero and then orally for life survived longer than did untreated animals; a factor that makes the apparent increase in liver tumour incidence difficult to interpret. Long-term oral studies in mice have given some evidence of liver carcinogenicity and suspicions of a carcinogenic effect on the lung. Single or repeated administration by oral or injection routes has given little or no evidence of chromosome damage or mutation induction in rats and mice though injections of BHT increased the incidence of sperm abnormalities in mice. BHT damaged the chromosomes of human and hamster cells in culture but was not mutagenic in bacterial assays, including the Ames test. BHT has modified both the activity of genotoxins in short-term screening tests and that of carcinogens when fed to laboratory animals.

Date of Publication: 1989

Number of Pages: 16

CAS Number*: 128-37-0

Format: PDF available for immediate download

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