So before going to the Dow Chemical website to learn more about Trethanolamine, I was only moderately concerned. Then I read this. Just a little something to down with your morning coffee.
Based on the uses of TEA, the principal route of exposure is through skin contact, with some exposure occurring by inhalation of vapor and aerosols. If TEA is not used properly and contact does occur, it can occur and cause eye and skin irritation. It can also cause corneal injury. Inhalation of vapors or mists may cause irritation of the respiratory tract, experienced as nasal discomfort and discharge, with chest pain and coughing.
Prolonged or widespread contact with TEA may result in the absorption of potentially harmful amounts. Repeated overexposure to TEA may cause damage to the kidneys and liver. Skin contact may cause sensitization and an allergic skin reaction in a small proportion of individuals.
TEA is moderately toxic when swallowed. It may cause burning or painful sensations in the mouth, throat, chest and abdomen and cause nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. It may also cause dizziness, drowsiness, faintness, weakness, collapse and coma.
Findings from the National Toxicology Program 22 demonstrated an increased incidence of liver tumors in mice dosed dermally with TEA for their lifetime. However, TEA did not cause tumors in similarly treated rats or genetically engineered sensitive mice, nor does TEA damage genetic material, an important determinant of potential cancer causing risk. Research has demonstrated that the most likely means by which TEA caused tumors in mice is by causing a deficiency in choline, an essential nutrient for proper cell growth and functioning.23 Chronic deficiency in choline is known to cause tumors in test animals.24 Significantly, humans appear resistant to development of choline deficiency compared to rodents. The relevance of the mouse tumor findings to humans has thus been questioned.25
TEA has not been identified in a screening study as having potential toxicity for fetuses.26