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Diss Factsheets

Administrative data

Description of key information

Additional information

No human studies were available for assessment. There is only one report of human health effects in the published literature. The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (1994) 29 has summarised a report by Rakhimova (1973)30 of acute exposure of a worker who opened a tank containing sodium ethyl xanthate. The worker lost consciousness and was removed from the work site. On revival he was restless, vomited and had convulsive twitching of muscles in his arms and legs. He complained of difficult breathing, teary eyes and hoarseness and later developed light sensitivity and fluid accumulation in the eyelids and eye discharge. Limited unpublished health effects information was available for assessment. Contract workers at one mining site (Kalgoorlie Consolidated Gold Mines Pty Ltd) reported nausea and, complaints of headache, dizziness, nausea and foul odour from residents in the vicinity of a mine using sodium ethyl xanthate have been reported. Inhalation of fumes following a chemical leak at the railway station in Alice Springs in May 1993 led to the hospitalisation of six railway workers. The workers were involved in transhipping cargo from a train to road transport.

Carbon disulphide

Nervous system effects

Central nervous system (CNS) and peripheral nervous system effects have been frequently observed in workers exposed to carbon disulphide, particularly viscose rayon workers. Effects of carbon disulphide poisoning in early reports included polyneuritis (consisting of weakness in the legs and knees), headaches and irritability. The main symptoms of toxicity revealed in a detailed study of Finnish viscose rayon workers were fatigue, insomnia, paraesthesia and headaches, with sensory or motor Sodium Ethyl Xanthate 27 in 26 of 36 workers. Behavioural tests on workers at the plant revealed intelligence reduction, slower response and loss of manual dexterity.33 In a later study of rayon plant workers exposed to carbon disulphide no behavioural changes were identified at carbon disulphide concentrations below 20 ppm.2

Cardiovascular effects

Atherosclerosis of the cerebral and peripheral arteries has been observed in several cases of workers exposed to carbon disulphide. An increase in the serum cholesterol concentration has been observed in workers repeatedly exposed to approximately 20 to 60 ppm carbon disulphide, but not in workers exposed to carbon disulphide concentrations below 20 ppm. An increased incidence of heart disease has been reported in workers exposed to carbon disulphide.33 In a mortality study of workers at an English viscose rayon factory, an increased coronary heart disease death rate of 2.5 times the expected rate was observed for workers in the viscose spinning area of the plant, where exposure to carbon disulphide was greatest (above 20 ppm). In a study of Finnish viscose rayon workers exposed to approximately 10 to 30 ppm, a mortality study revealed a similar increased risk of coronary heart disease. A detailed health survey of the surviving workers in this study showed an increased incidence of angina and high blood pressure, but a similar survey by the same authors of Japanese workers exposed to similar carbon disulphide levels revealed no effects on blood pressure or angina incidence.