Diethanolamine (DEA) was a moderate to severe skin irritant in laboratory animals, a severe eye irritant in rabbits, and an occasional skin sensitizer in humans. It was of low acute dermal toxicity in rabbits, and of fairly low acute lethality on oral administration to several animal species, but liver and kidney damage resulted from a single low oral dose in rats.

Oral administration of DEA has caused diarrhoea and changes in blood fat levels in humans. Severe neurological effects, including paralysis, occurred in dogs and cats treated orally for two days or more. In rats and mice, repeated oral and/or dermal administration affected a range of tissues including the liver, kidney, blood, nervous system, pancreas, adrenal and salivary glands, and heart. Inhalation of low concentrations by rats affected the liver and kidney.

Testes injury and adverse sperm effects were found in rats given multiple oral doses. No evidence of genotoxicity was seen in screening assays in bacteria, yeast and mammalian cells in culture. Chromosomal damage was not found in the blood of mice that had been in repeated skin contact with DEA. In the presence of nitrosating agents such as nitrite or nitrogen oxides, DEA can react to form the potent animal carcinogen N-nitrosodiethanolamine.

Date of Publication: 1993

Number of Pages: 7

CAS Number*: 111-42-2


Format: PDF available for immediate download

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