WAACNewsletter
Volume 11, Number 3, Sept 1989, pp.5-6

Health & Safety

by Chris Stavroudis

California's Proposition 65, Redux

Proposition 65, "The Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986," was adopted by the voters of California as a ballot initiative in the November 1986 election. The act contains prohibitions against the contamination of drinking water with chemicals known to cause cancer or reproductive toxicity and requires that clear and reasonable warning be given to anyone exposed to a chemical known to cause cancer or reproductive toxicity. [For more information about the act see the May 1988 Newsletter pp 5-8 and the accompanying text of the act.] The proposition requires the Governor of California to produce a list of the chemicals known to cause cancer or reproductive toxicity. This list is periodically revised. As of January 1989, the list contains 137 carcinogens. The listing of chemicals known to the state to cause reproductive toxicity has been subdivided into Developmental toxicity, which contains 29 chemicals; Female reproductive toxicity, 4 chemicals; and Male reproductive toxicity, 6 chemicals. New and of interest to conservators to the list of Chemicals Known to the State to Cause Cancer are: p-Dichlorobenzene added as of Jan 1, 1989 and Silica, crystalline (airborne particles of respirable size) added as of October 1988. Added to the list of Chemicals Known to the State to Cause Reproductive Toxicity are: ethylene glycol monoethyl ether and ethylene glycol monomethyl ether both added January 1989. Ethylene oxide, lead, tobacco smoke (not environmental tobacco smoke) appear on the "Female reproductive toxicity" list while ethylene glycol monoethyl ether, ethylene glycol monomethyl ether, lead and tobacco smoke (not environmental tobacco smoke) are included on the "Male reproductive toxicity" list.

More Bad News

I feel the information I included in abstracts submitted to Art and Archaeology Technical Abstracts (AATA) is of general enough interest to be repeated in this column. All the following information is abstracted from Dangerous Properties of Industrial Materials Report which is printed semi-monthly by Van Nostrand Reinhold Company, Inc.; 115 Fifth Avenue; New York, NY 10003. Its ISSN is 0270-3777. The abstracts from AATA are quoted.

In Volume 6, number 5 (September/October 1986), pp 93-115, "Hazardous Materials: Xylene":

Extensive compilation of material safety information on xylene, including in situ amelioration recommendations, and an extensive review of freshwater, saltwater, and animal toxicity testing. Interesting information: In 1942, the U.S. Dept of Labor suggested that pregnant women should avoid occupational exposure to xylene. Xylene crosses the placental barrier and some studies conclude that it is an effective teratogen and interferes with normal fetal development. Mutagenicity seems to be negative. Animal studies show drinking ethanol increased the amount of xylene taken into the body by respiration.

In Volume 7, number 4 (Sept/Oct 1987), pp 2-14, "Toluene", by Thomas J. Haley:

Extensive compilation of health and safety information on Toluene. Interesting information: "Findings...suggest that toluene is non-carcinogenic" by virtue of animal studies and inconclusive human exposure data. "A high incidence of menstrual disorders were noted in women exposed to toluene and other solvents in the workplace. Offspring were underweight, did not nurse well, and experienced more frequent fetal asphyxia, although there have been no reports of toluene being teratogenic in humans." Toluene was found to be teratogenic in mice and exposure on days 1-8 of pregnancy resulted in embryotoxic effects.

In Volume 7, number 4 (July/August 1987), pp 7-24, "Chemical Review: 1,4 dichlorobenzene":

1,4 dichlorobenzene, also known as paradichlorobenzene, or PDB, a commonly used moth repellent is also known under the trade names: Dichlorocide, Paracide, Paradow, and Paramoth, among others. Interesting information: It is combustible, poisonous gasses are produced in a fire. Odor threshold 15-30 ppm, painful to eyes and nose at 50-80 ppm. Toxicity: Etiological potential. Has been reported to cause liver injury in humans.

In Volume 6, number 5 (September/October 1986), pp 51-52, "International Toxicity Update: Methylene Chloride":

Summary of an International Task Group of the International Program on Chemical Safety's Environmental Health Criteria document on methylene chloride, released in 1984. As methylene chloride is rapidly absorbed via the lungs and the gastrointestinal tract, the major source of exposure is through inhalation. It is absorbed into all body tissue and crosses both the placental and blood-brain barrier. Skin absorption is slow. While results of mutagenic testing on mammalian cells, including human, were negative, it is weakly mutagenic in bacteria and fungi. Data is inadequate (as of 1984) for determination of carcinogenicity in animals and man. There is limited evidence that it is teratogenic.

The abstracts were reprinted, with permission, from AATA Vol. 26, no. 1. Note also that the Abstracts contain an entire section, Conservation Practice: Health Hazards (B-3), devoted to covering literature on health and safety matters of interest to the conservator.

Chris Stavroudis, Newsletter Editor

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