Oxalates are present in the normal diet and are also formed endogenously from the metabolism of various dietary components. On the basis of reported poisoning from the ingestion of rhubarb leaves (which have a high oxalate content), the acute oral toxicity of the oxalates to man is probably high. The main symptoms of acute toxicity in humans or animals include immediate corrosive damage to the gut followed by depression of the central nervous system, convulsions, and kidney damage. A link has been postulated between prolonged occupational exposure and urinary stone formation. The kidney was the main target organ in animals following repeated ingestion of oxalic acid or its sodium salts or of oxalate-containing plants. Effects on the liver, spleen, thyroid, adrenal glands and reproductive organs of rats were also seen. Reproductive toxicity was evident in rats (reduced litter size), but no malformations occurred in the offspring of rats or ewes given oxalic acid in the diet throughout pregnancy. A limited 2-yr feeding study in rats gave no evidence of carcinogenicity. There was no indication of genotoxicity in cultured mammalian cells, nor of mutagenicity in the bacterial Ames test. Oxalic acid was an irritant to the skin, eyes, and respiratory tract of humans.

Date of Publication: 1988

Number of Pages: 8

CAS Number*: 144-62-7








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