The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) has begun a process of evaluating acetaldehyde to determine its toxicity for humans. The Dutch government agency with local decision making power over chemical safety requested ECHA to begin a harmonized classification and labeling (CLH) process. This will focus particularly on the path by which acetaldehyde is metabolized in the human body. Acetaldehyde is present in living organisms as a breakdown product of alcohol and it is also encountered externally.
There are two genotypes of humans with respect to the ability to metabolize acetaldehyde. It is not clear that these genetic differences lead to either greater alcohol-related cancer risk or a concurrent sensitivity to acetaldehyde in the environment. The potential of acetaldehyde to act as a mutagen is related to its metabolic decay rate and corresponding half-life in varying populations. Research data and publications are currently being solicited by the ECHA.
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