To clarify the acute and subchronic inhalation toxicity of tetraethoxysilane [TEOS, Si(OC2H5)4], groups of ten male ICR mice (SPF grade) were exposed to 1000 ppm TEOS for 1, 2, 4 or 8 h (acute inhalation study), or to 200 ppm of TEOS for 6 h/day, 5 days/week, for 2 or 4 weeks (subchronic inhalation study). The numbers of mice that died during 2 weeks of observation were 0, 1, 1 and 6 in the 1-, 2-, 4- and 8-h inhalation experiments and zero in the subchronic inhalation study. In the acute inhalation study, body weight decreased after TEOS exposure and did not reach the level of control mice during 2 weeks of observation except in the 1-h inhalation study. In the subchronic exposure study, weight gain was suppressed during the exposure period. Body weight in mice exposed for 2 weeks reached the level of non-exposed mice during the 2-week observation period, but did not do so in mice exposed for 4 weeks. Acute tubular necrosis (ATN) and acute splenic atrophy (ASA) were observed in all dead mice in the acute inhalation study, and tubulointerstitial nephritis (TIN) was frequently found in the surviving mice in both the acute and subchronic studies. However, blood biochemical examinations revealed no evidence of renal dysfunction. The olfactory epithelium was necrotic in all dead mice. In the subchronic inhalation study, infiltration of polymorphonuclear neutrophils in the nasal mucosa was observed in all mice killed 1 day after exposure. These results indicate that the LCL0 for 1-h exposure to TEOS and LC50 for 4-h exposure are greater than 1000 ppm, and that the kidney and nasal mucosa are the target organs for TEOS inhalation.
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