Reproductive toxicity

White spirit is categorised in Class A, unconfirmed reproductive effects (REPROTEXT® 2001), as adverse effects have been reported in women with exposure to mixed solvents including white spirit. However, the reproductive risk to humans of white spirit alone is not known.

Female painters exposed to a mixture of solvents including white spirit had a higher incidence of complications in pregnancy including spontaneous abortions and stillbirths (Tikhonova et al., 1997). Syrovadko et al. (1973) investigated menstrual disturbances and menstrual function in women exposed occupationally to white spirit and compared them with a control group of non-exposed office workers. The white spirit contained 16% toluene and xylene, and the other components were unknown. The women may also have been exposed to other varnishes during the course of their work. Compared to the control group, the exposed workers had decreased haemoglobin concentrations and total red blood cell counts, a higher incidence of prolapse of the uterus and vaginal wall, and a greater occurrence of menstrual disturbances (polyhypermenorrhoea, dysmenorrhoea and changes in cycle patterns). However, Barlow and Sullivan (1982) highlight the fact that it is not possible from this study to ascertain which, if any of the various chemicals, might be responsible for the observed effects.

White spirit did not affect reproduction data or the incidence of skeletal or visceral anomalies and malformations in rats. It was fetotoxic only at maternally toxic doses (Jakobsen et al. 1986).

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