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Health and Environmental Effects Research

MTBE/Oxygenates

The EPA's Health and Environmental Effects Research (NHEERL) is conducting research that will provide data to help the Agency evaluate the risks that may be posed by exposure to methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE).  A previous study by NHEERL investigators1 examined sensory and health-related endpoints following exposure of human volunteers to MTBE.   The study participants exhibited no effects following exposure to 1.39 ppm MTBE for one hour.

NHEERL scientists are now conducting an evaluation of the pharmacokinetics (i.e., uptake, metabolism and elimination) of MTBE in human volunteers by inhalation, oral, and dermal routes of exposure. One of the primary goals of this study is to provide data for the development of route-to-route extrapolation models, which will enable risk assessors to make better use of all of the available health effects data on MTBE. A physiologically based pharmacokinetic model for humans was developed to describe oral, inhalation, and dermal exposure to MTBE in FY2001. A manuscript on the model is in preparation and is expected to be submitted for publication in the spring of FY2002.

Additional links to information concerning methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) can be found by visiting the EPA MTBE Web site and by searching EPA.

1 Prah et al. Sensory, symptomatic, inflammatory, and ocular responses to and the metabolism of methyl tertiary butyl ether in a controlled human exposure experiment.  Inhalation Toxicology 6:521-538, 1994.

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