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

(Group 3)

For definition of Groups, see Preamble Evaluation.

Vol.: 65 (1996) (p. 449)

CAS No.: 118-96-7
Chem. Abstr. Name: 2-Methyl-1,3,5-trinitrobenzene

5. Summary of Data Reported and Evaluation

5.1 Exposure data

2,4,6-Trinitrotoluene is produced commercially by the nitration of toluene. It is used mainly as a high explosive in military and industrial applications. Exposures to 2,4,6-trinitrotoluene both through inhalation and skin absorption can occur during its production, during munitions manufacturing and loading, and during blasting operations. 2,4,6-Trinitrotoluene has been detected in wastewater, surface and groundwater, and in soils and sediments near plants manufacturing 2,4,6-trinitrotoluene and explosives.

5.2 Human carcinogenicity data

One ecological study was available that noted an association between leukaemia and residence in an area contaminated with 2,4,6-trinitrotoluene.

5.3 Animal carcinogenicity data

No adequate study on the carcinogenicity of 2,4,6-trinitrotoluene in experimental animals was available to the Working Group.

5.4 Other relevant data

In humans, absorption of 2,4,6-trinitrotoluene both through the skin and the gastrointestinal route had been demonstrated. 2,4,6-Trinitrotoluene is also probably absorbed in the respiratory tract. However, the dermal route is the commonest in occupational settings.

In humans exposed to 2,4,6-trinitrotoluene, mainly dinitroaminotoluenes and also diaminonitrotoluenes, probably mainly as conjugates, as well as unchanged 2,4,6-trinitrotoluene were found in the urine.

In humans, exposure to 2,4,6-trinitrotoluene has been found to cause haematological disorders, including aplastic anaemia, haematolytic anaemia and methaemoglobinaemia. 2,4,6-Trinitrotoluene may cause toxic hepatitis. Moreover, allergic contact dermatitis and cataract may occur, as well as gastritis and respiratory mucous membrane and conjunctival irritation.

2,4,6-Trinitrotoluene undergoes both oxidative and reductive metabolism in animals. It causes anaemia and hepatotoxicity in rats and dogs. Testicular atrophy occurs in rats following exposure to 2,4,6-trinitrotoluene.

In workers exposed to 2,4,6-trinitrotoluene, increased bacterial mutagenic activity was found in the urine.

2,4,6-Trinitrotoluene is mutagenic in bacteria with and without a metabolic activation system. In cultured mammalian cells, it is mutagenic only in the absence of a metabolic activation system. Although 2,4,6-trinitrotoluene was negative in mammals in vivo for unscheduled DNA synthesis in the liver and micronuclei induction in bone marrow, the urine of rats is mutagenic after intraperitoneal injection of 2,4,6-trinitrotoluene.

5.5 Evaluation

There is inadequate evidence in humans for the carcinogenicity of 2,4,6-trinitrotoluene.

There is inadequate evidence in experimental animals for the carcinogenicity of 2,4,6-trinitrotoluene.

Overall evaluation

2,4,6-Trinitrotoluene is not classifiable as to its carcinogenicity to humans (Group 3).

For definition of the italicized terms, see Preamble Evaluation.


Last updated 08/14/1997

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