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Toxicological information

Acute Toxicity: oral

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Administrative data

acute toxicity: oral
Type of information:
other: Assessment
Adequacy of study:
key study
2 (reliable with restrictions)
Rationale for reliability incl. deficiencies:
other: Reliability score 2 on the basis of the weight of evidence found during review of public documents relating to toxicity of charcoal and related carbon compounds

Data source

Reference Type:
other company data
Report date:

Materials and methods

Test guideline
no guideline followed
Principles of method if other than guideline:
Assessment of public documents relating to historical toxicity reviews of charcoal and related carbon compounds
GLP compliance:
not specified
Test type:
other: Assessment

Test material

Constituent 1
Chemical structure
Reference substance name:
EC Number:
EC Name:
Cas Number:
Molecular formula:
Details on test material:
Review on charcoal and related carbon compounds.

Test animals

other: Human - medical uses

Administration / exposure

Route of administration:
oral: unspecified

Results and discussion

Effect levels
Dose descriptor:
other: Effect levels
Effect level:
> 1 000 mg/kg bw
Based on:
act. ingr.

Applicant's summary and conclusion

Interpretation of results:
not classified
Migrated information Criteria used for interpretation of results: EU
Evidence from human exposure suggests low toxicity
Further animal testing is not justified
Executive summary:

Ingestion of charcoal is not an expected route of exposure in normal use especially when in lump or granular form. Charcoal is sold commercially mainly for use as a fuel but Charcoal has been used since the earliest times for a range of purposes including art and medicine, as a source of carbon black (used in gunpowder) and due to its high surface area can be used as a filter, as a catalyst or as an adsorbent.

The use of charcoal in medicine is varied. Charcoal was consumed in the past as dietary supplement for gastric problems in the form of charcoal biscuits. Now it can be consumed in tablet, capsule or powder form, for digestive effects although research regarding its effectiveness is controversial. However activated charcoal has been widely used to treat poisonings and overdoses. Dosing is usually 1 gram/kg of body mass (for adolescents or adults, give 50–100 g), usually given only once, but depending on the drug taken, it may be given more than once. Activated carbon has become the treatment of choice for many poisonings.

There are a number of medical articles relating to the use of charcoal in human and veterinary medicine. The article below gives a good overview of the use of activated charcoal in medical situations where oral administration would be expected. J Med Toxicol. 2010 June; 6(2): 190–198. Activated Charcoal for Acute Poisoning: One Toxicologist’s Journey. Kent R. Olson According to this paper, although charcoal is generally considered a benign treatment, there are some risks with its use. Many patients vomit and a few of them aspirate gastric contents into the lungs causing a pneumonitis. Addition of a cathartic may cause diarrhea and failure to give a laxative may cause constipation or the formation of charcoal briquettes in the intestinal tract.

Charcoal has been blamed for appendicitis and intestinal perforation in single case reports. There is no evidence that charcoal or activated charcoal is orally toxic. In fact all evidence suggests that it is beneficial in certain circumstances as a treatment for removing toxins from the stomach and gastric tract. On this basis, the testing required for this end point is not justified and it is suggested that charcoal is non-toxic orally.

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