Health Assessment Document for Acetaldehyde. External Review Draft
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Acetaldehyde, a chemical intermediate in the synthesis of several organic compounds, is rapidly and completely absorbed and is extensively metabolized to acetate, carbon dioxide, and water in mammalian systems. It readily forms adducts with membranal and intracellular macromolecules; such formation may be associated with its toxicity. Acute inhalation of acetaldehyde resulted in depressed respiratory rate and elevated blood pressure in experimental animals. Acetaldehyde vapors produced systemic effects and growth retardation in the hamster in a chronic study. No LEL or NOEL has been established. The primary acute effect on humans is irritation of eyes, skin, and respiratory tract. A population exposed to environmental sources of acetaldehyde may be adding to a body burden of this compound produced by normal metabolism and by such habits as cigarette smoking and ethanol consumption. No comparison of the relative magnitude of exposure from these various Uources is possible with the available data and, so, is not attempted in the document.