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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Health effects of oxygenated fuels.

The use of oxygenated fuels is anticipated to increase over the next decades. This paper reviews the toxicological and exposure information for methyl tertiary-butyl ether (MTBE), a fuel additive, and methanol, a replacement fuel, and discusses the possible health consequences of exposure of the general public to these compounds. For MTBE, the health effects information available is derived almost exclusively from rodent studies, and the exposure data are limited to a few measurements at some service stations. Based on these data, it appears unlikely that the normal population is at high risk of exposure to MTBE vapor. However, in the absence of health and pharmacokinetic data in humans or in nonhuman primates, this conclusion is not strongly supported. Similarly, there are a number of uncertainties to take into consideration in estimating human risk from the use of methanol as a fuel. Although methanol may be toxic to humans at concentrations that overwhelm certain enzymes involved in methanol metabolism, the data available provide little evidence to indicate that exposure to methanol vapors from the use of methanol as a motor vehicle fuel will result in adverse health effects. The uncertainties in this conclusion are based on the lack of information on dose-response relationship at reasonable, projected exposure levels and of studies examining end points of concern in sensitive species. In developing a quantitative risk assessment, more needs to be known about health effects in primates or humans and the range of exposure expected for the general public for both compounds.[1]


  1. Health effects of oxygenated fuels. Costantini, M.G. Environ. Health Perspect. (1993) [Pubmed]
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