Degeneration of the seminiferous tubules and germ cells, decreased epididymal weight, decreased sperm count, and an increase in the percentage of abnormal sperm were observed in Wistar rats exposed to >458 mg ethylene oxide/m3 for 13 weeks (Mori et al., 1989, 1991). When abnormal sperm heads were classified into immature and teratic types, the frequency of teratic types was increased at exposures of >92 mg/m3, although it was not concentration dependent (Mori et al., 1991). Decreased relative testicular weight was observed in rats after exposure to 915 mg ethylene oxide/m3 (Mori et al., 1989). In a limited study in rats, slight degeneration of the tubules in the testes was observed after exposure to 370 mg ethylene oxide/m3 for 25–32 weeks (Hollingsworth et al., 1956). Embryotoxic and fetotoxic effects were observed in reproductive studies with rats after exposure of the dams via inhalation to concentrations of ethylene oxide between 183 and 275 mg/m3, prior to mating and throughout gestation. These effects included a decrease in the number of implantation sites per pregnant female, an increase in the incidence of resorptions, a decrease in the median number of pups born on day 0 postpartum per litter, as well as a lower ratio of the number of fetuses born to the number of implantation sites per female (Hackett et al., 1982; Snellings et al., 1982a,b; Hardin et al., 1983). Under these exposure conditions, adverse effects on the dams were not observed (based simply upon clinical appearance and demeanour).


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