International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) - Summaries & Evaluations

(Group 3)

For definition of Groups, see Preamble Evaluation.

VOL.: 63 (1995) (p. 337)
CAS No.: 107-02-8
Chem. Abstr. Name: 2-Propenal

5. Summary and Evaluation

5.1 Exposure data

Acrolein has been produced commercially since the 1940s. It is used mainly in the production of acrylic acid, a starting material for acrylate polymers. It is also used in the production of DL-methionine and as a herbicide and slimicide.

Acrolein occurs naturally in foods and is formed during the combustion of fossil fuels (including engine exhausts), wood and tobacco and during the heating of cooking oils. Human exposure occurs from these sources and during its production and use.

5.2 Human carcinogenicity data

The available data were inadequate to form the basis for an evaluation of the carcinogenicity of acrolein to humans.

5.3 Animal carcinogenicity data

Acrolein was tested for carcinogenicity in one experiment in mice and in two experiments in rats by oral administration. No increase in tumour incidence was observed in mice or in rats in the one adequate study.

An increased incidence of urinary bladder papillomas was observed in rats receiving intraperitoneal injections of acrolein in combination with uracil in the diet.

5.4 Other relevant data

Acrolein is retained irreversibly in the respiratory tract after exposure by inhalation, probably because of its high tissue reactivity. Consequently, there is little, if any, distribution to other organs. Subcutaneous and oral exposure and long-term inhalation result in some systemic distribution and urinary excretion. Acrolein reacts readily with reduced glutathione, and this is the dominant detoxification pathway.

Acrolein is an intense irritant, and its irritancy may limit exposure to this substance. Repeated inhalation results in changes in the upper and lower respiratory tract. In dogs, acute congestion, changes in bronchiolar epithelial cells and emphysema were found after inhalation of the lowest dose tested.

No data were available on the effects of acrolein on human reproduction. No reproductive toxicity was seen in rats or rabbits treated with acrolein by gavage.

In single studies, acrolein did not induce DNA damage in rats or dominant lethal mutations in mice treated in vivo.

In cultured mammalian cells, acrolein induced gene mutation, sister chromatid exchange and DNA damage; weak induction of chromosomal aberrations was observed in one study.

Acrolein induced both somatic and germinal mutations in insects and DNA mutation and DNA damage in bacteria. DNA binding in vitro was observed in several studies.

5.5 Evaluation

There is inadequate evidence in humans for the carcinogenicity of acrolein.

There is inadequate evidence in experimental animals for the carcinogenicity of acrolein.

Overall evaluation

Acrolein is not classifiable as to its carcinogenicity to humans (Group 3).

For definition of the italicized terms, see Preamble Evaluation.

Previous evaluation: Suppl. 7 (1987) (p. 78)


Last updated 05/27/1997

    See Also:
       Toxicological Abbreviations
       Acrolein (EHC 127, 1991)
       Acrolein (HSG 67, 1991)
       Acrolein (ICSC)
       Acrolein (CICADS 43, 2002)