Amines are considered to have negative environmental impacts. It was reported that occupational asthma was found in a patient handling a cutting fluid containing diethanolamine (DEA). DEA causes asthmatic airway obstruction at concentrations of 0.75 mg/m3 and 1.0 mg/m3 (Piipari et al. 1998). Toninello (2006) reported that the oxidation of amines appears to be carcinogenic. DEA also reversibly inhibits phosphatidylcholine synthesis by blocking choline uptake (Lehman-McKeeman and Gamsky 1999). Systemic toxicity occurs in many tissue types including the nervous system, liver, kidney, and blood system. Hartung et al. (1970) reported that inhalation by male rats of 6 ppm (25.8 mg/m3) DEA vapor 8 hours/day, 5 days/week for 13 weeks resulted in depressed growth rates, increased lung and kidney weights, and even some mortality. Rats exposed continuously for 216 hours (nine days) to 25 ppm (108 mg/m3) DEA showed increased liver and kidney weights and elevated blood urea nitrogen. Barbee and Hartung (1979) reported changes in liver mitochondrial activities in rats following exposure to DEA in drinking water.
Melnick (1992) reported that symptoms associated with diethanolamine intoxication included increased blood pressure, diuresis, salivation, and pupillary dilation (Beard and Noe 1981). Diethanolamine causes mild skin irritation to the rabbit at concentrations above 5% and severe ocular irritation at concentrations above 50% (Beyer et al. 1983). Diethanolamine is a respiratory irritant and, thus, might exacerbate asthma, which has a more severe impact on children than on adults (Chronic Toxicity Summary 2001). The summary reports showed that diethanolamine is corrosive to eyes, mucous membranes, and skin. Also, liquid splashed in the eye causes intense pain and corneal damage, and permanent visual impairment may occur. Prolonged or repeated exposure to vapors at concentrations slightly below the irritant level often results in corneal edema, foggy vision, and the appearance of halos around skin that contacts liquid diethylamine causes blistering and necrosis. Exposure to high vapor concentrations may cause severe coughing, chest pain, and pulmonary edema. Ingestion of diethylamine causes severe gastrointestinal pain, vomiting, and diarrhea, and may result in perforation of the stomach. As a large volume of amines are used for natural gas processing and other chemical processes, there are chances that it may have negative environmental and health impacts during their life cycles.
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