Acute exposure


Inhalation of high concentrations of diacetone alcohol vapour may lead to narcosis and systemic injury (Topping et al., 2001). Eye, nose and throat irritation may occur at concentrations well below those necessary to cause significant systemic injury (Topping et al., 2001). In a study of human volunteers, eye irritation appeared in the majority of subjects at 100 ppm and at this concentration practically all subjects complained of irritation to nose or throat (Silverman et al., 1946). Renal and hepatic injury has been reported in experimental animals and following prolonged or severe exposures in humans, there may be a risk of renal and hepatic damage (Keith, 1932). There is one report of subacute glomerulonephritis, which was diagnosed 40 days after occupational exposure to diacetone alcohol and ethanol paint solvents, although the causal relationship is unclear (Von Scheele 1976).


Diacetone alcohol is irritating to the skin and following prolonged exposure there may be erythema and defatting. Diacetone alcohol may be absorbed through the skin leading to mild systemic effects following severe skin exposures (Topping et al., 2001).

Exposure to diacetone alcohol vapour may cause eye irritation. In rabbit eyes undiluted diacetone alcohol caused severe corneal injury (Carpenter and Smyth, 1948).


Diacetone alcohol has a low degree of oral toxicity (Topping et al., 2001) although human data are lacking. Hypotension and narcosis have been described in experimental animals.

In experiments, rats injected with diacetone alcohol developed narcosis (Von Oettingen, 1943). In rabbits, injection of diacetone alcohol had a marked depressant action on respiration and caused narcosis. The time of onset, depth and duration of effects was dependent on the dose and route of administration. Intravenous injection of diacetone alcohol in rabbits caused hypotension (thought to be due to a reduction in the cardiac output, rather than vasodilatation). Hypotension and respiratory depression were also noted in anaesthetised dogs injected with diacetone alcohol (Walton et al., 1923).

Hepatic effects

Liver damage has been described in experimental animals. Rats fed diacetone alcohol via stomach tube developed temporary cloudy swelling, vacuolisation and granulation of the hepatic cells. These effects developed six hours post dose reaching a maximum intensity at 24 hours. Recovery was practically complete in seven days (Keith, 1932).

Renal effects

Renal injury (indicated by the presence of albumin and sugar in the urine) has been demonstrated in experimental animals following the repeated (12 times a day for an unspecified period) subcutaneous injection of diacetone alcohol (Von Oettingen, 1943).

Haematological effects

Haemolysis has been described in experimental animals. Destruction of erythrocytes and a reduction of haemoglobin was demonstrated in rats fed diacetone alcohol via stomach tube. These changes reverted to normal after a few days (Keith, 1932).

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