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September 25, 1943

Current Comment

JAMA. 1943;123(4):213. doi:10.1001/jama.1943.02840390033012

TOXICITY OF CHLORINATED HYDROCARBONS  Chlor compounds of the petroleum series have a wide use as degreasers of metal, cleansers of textiles, dry cleansers, solvents for rubber and other industrial uses. They are as a group not inflammable and have strong solvent properties. Hamilton1 divides them into three groups: the saturated (paraffin) group such as methane and ethane, the unsaturated olefins such as ethylene and propylene and the naphthalenes. Methyl chloride, carbon tetrachloride, ethylene dichloride, acetylene tetrachloride and acetylene trichloride are industrially the most important. Tetrachlorethane, the common name for acetylene tetrachloride, is the most toxic of the chlorinated hydrocarbons that have been used in industry. All the substances, however, have some toxicity; Dr. Hamilton emphasizes that the increasing use of heat in connection with their industrial employment, as for example in degreasing with vapors of trichlorethylene or carbon tetrachloride, is far more dangerous than was the earlier method of