Toxic Polyneuropathy Produced by Methyl N-Butyl Ketone

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Science  30 Aug 1974:
Vol. 185, Issue 4153, pp. 787-789
DOI: 10.1126/science.185.4153.787


A polyneuropathy affecting a large number of workers was recently observed at a plant producing plastic-coated and color-printed fabrics. Epidemiological data suggested strongly that methyl N-butyl ketone (MBK) was responsible for the outbreak. This hypothesis is now supported by the development of a peripheral neuropathy in chickens, rats, and cats exposed to MBK at atmospheric concentrations of 200 to 600 parts per million, 24 hours per day, 7 days per week. Although the animals were exposed continuously and the affected workers were exposed intermittently, the averages of the total number of hours of exposure for development of the peripheral neutropathy in the animals and workers were remarkably close.