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Phosgene is primarily manufactured for the synthesis of isocyanate-based polymers, carbonic acid esters, and acid chlorides. Ambient and indoor air concentrations of phosgene are produced by direct emissions during its manufacture, handling, and use; thermal decomposition of chlorinated hydrocarbons; and photochemical oxidation of chloroethylenes in the air. The effects of acute inhalation exposure are primarily respiratory, causing pulmonary emphysema, pulmonary edema, and possibly death due to paralysis of the respiratory center as a result of anoxia. Limited epidemiology studies indicate no increase in the incidence of cancers among workers chronically exposed to phosgene. No definitive conclusions can be drawn regarding possible teratogenic, reproductive, carcinogenic, or mutagenic effects of phosgene exposure because adequate studies have not been performed.
Hajjar, N., C. Rothwell, C. Alexander, L. Borghi, AND B. Shacter. Health Assessment Document for Phosgene. External Review Draft. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, D.C., EPA/600/8-86/022A (NTIS PB87147039), 1986.