A comprehensive assessment of the potential human health effects of ethylbenzene was performed in 2007 by U.S. manufacturers of ethylbenzene to support the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Voluntary Children’s Chemical Evaluation Program.
The assessment focused on potential chronic health risks of children and prospective parents and included evaluations of ethylbenzene’s health hazards and exposures. A number of toxicity studies were conducted in advance of the assessment to improve knowledge of ethylbenzene’s potential toxicity to the immune system, reproduction and development, nervous system, and developing nervous system.
Major conclusions of the assessment:
- Ethylbenzene toxicity has been thoroughly evaluated for non-cancer and cancer health effects. The important hazards identified in animal studies are ototoxicity (hearing impairment) and cancer. Mechanistic information indicate that the cancers are rodent-specific or have low relevance to human exposures.
- Refinery operations and products are the major sources of ethylbenzene exposure. Inhalation is the predominate exposure route with diet providing minor contributions.
- Estimated health risk to children and prospective parents for ethylbenzene are within acceptable ranges.
The ethylbenzene risk assessment was published by the journal Critical Reviews in Toxicology in 2015.