NTP finds high levels of MCHM cause skin irritation
Pure and crude 4-methylcyclohexanemethanol (MCHM) can cause skin irritation, according to scientists at the National Toxicology Program (NTP). MCHM is used in coal beneficiation, a method that improves the quality of raw coal. The evaluation followed a 2014 chemical spill in which crude MCHM contaminated 15 percent of West Virginia’s tap water.
Approximately 1,900 West Virginia residents reported dermal irritation after crude MCHM was released from a storage tank into the Elk River, a water source for a large portion of the Charleston area. The authors assessed the ability of pure and crude MCHM to produce skin irritation by measuring ear swelling in mice after localized exposure to MCHM. Skin sensitization was assessed by measuring lymphocyte proliferation in the draining lymph node, an indicator of an immune response.
Although both pure and crude MCHM produced skin irritation in mice, pure MCHM appeared to be a stronger irritant. In contrast, only crude MCHM, not pure, was shown to act as a skin sensitizer. The study speculated that these differences might arise from variations in isomer concentration or in the presence of other chemicals mixed into crude MCHM. However, neither pure nor crude MCHM at levels similar to those in the tap water after the Elk River spill produced irritation or sensitization in mice. (EM)
Citation: Johnson VJ, Auerbach SS, Luster MI, Waidyanatha S, Masten SA, Wolfe MS, Burleson FG, Burleson GR, Germolec DR. 2017. Evaluation of 4-methylcyclohexanemethanol (MCHM) in a combined irritancy and local lymph node assay (LLNA) in mice. Food Chem Toxicol 105:99−105.