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Chlorinated Aliphatics

Aside from water, ethyl alcohol (ethanol) is the most common solvent. Present in alcoholic beverages, ethyl alcohol enters the body by ingestion. Other exposures may result from contact with “gasohol,” or its use as a chemical feedstock or in manufacturing. Ethyl alcohol crosses the blood-brain barrier and depresses the CNS. Ethyl alcohol’s role as an occupational toxicant pales next to its role as an abused “drink”—each year thousands of innocent victims are killed by drivers under the influence of alcohol’s CNS depressant effects. It is also a well-known teratogen (FAS) and carcinogen linked to oral, pharyngeal, laryngeal, esophageal, and hepatic cancers. Another aliphatic alcohol, methyl alcohol (methanol or wood alcohol), is easily absorbed through percutaneous or respiratory and digestive system routes. Although less inebriating than ethyl alcohol, methyl alcohol targets the neural cells in the retina of the eye to produce intra-axonal swelling. This may lead to visual system pathologies, including permanent blindness.