Emission of ethylene oxide during frying of foods in soybean oil

Food Chem Toxicol. 2007 Apr;45(4):568-74. doi: 10.1016/j.fct.2006.10.002. Epub 2006 Oct 17.


High levels of ethylene oxide (EO) and acetaldehyde (AE) were detected, using gas chromatography and a portable gas detector, among volatile organic compounds (VOC) emitted during simulated frying of herbs and spices in soybean oil at temperatures between 120 degrees C and 200 degrees C. Both EO and AE were distributed between the gas phase and oil phase after cooking each vegetable at 150 degrees C for 5min under either nitrogen or air at 1atm. EO concentrations in the gas phase (25-75ppm) exceeded the threshold limit value of 1ppm, the TLV TWA value established by the American Conference of Government Industrial Hygienists and permitted by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. EO has been identified as a significant carcinogen. Thus, while no causal relationship can be concluded from this study, the results suggest a possible relationship between the high levels of EO emitted during frying and the high incidence of lung cancer among Taiwanese women engaged in traditional cooking.

MeSH terms

  • Acetaldehyde / analysis
  • Cooking / methods*
  • Ethylene Oxide / analysis*
  • Ethylene Oxide / toxicity
  • Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry
  • Hot Temperature*
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / etiology
  • Soybean Oil / chemistry*


  • Soybean Oil
  • Acetaldehyde
  • Ethylene Oxide