Ethanol (ETOH) is added to unleaded gasoline to decrease environmental levels of carbon monoxide from automobiles emissions. Therefore, addition of ETOH in reformulated fuel will most likely increase and the involuntarily human exposure to this chemical will also increase. This preliminary study was undertaken to evaluate the possible neuromotor effects resulting from acute ETOH exposure by inhalation in humans. Five healthy non-smoking adult males, with no history of alcohol abuse, were exposed by inhalation, in a dynamic, controlled-environment exposure chamber, to various concentrations of ETOH (0, 250, 500 and 1,000 ppm in air) for six hours. Reaction time, body sway, hand tremor and rapid alternating movements were measured before and after each exposure session by using the CATSYS 7.0 system and a diadochokinesimeter. The concentrations of ETOH in blood and in alveolar air were also measured. ETOH was not detected in blood nor in alveolar air when volunteers were exposed to 250 and 500 ppm, but at the end of exposure to 1,000 ppm, blood and alveolar air concentrations were 0.443 mg/100ml and 253.1 ppm, respectively. The neuromotor tests did not show conclusively significant differences between the exposed and non-exposed conditions. In conclusion, this study suggests that acute exposure to ethanol at 1,000 ppm or lower or to concentrations that could be encountered upon refueling is not likely to cause any significant neuromotor alterations in healthy males.
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