Review of the mutagenicity of ethylene oxide

Environ Mol Mutagen. 1990;16(2):85-103. doi: 10.1002/em.2850160207.


Ethylene oxide has been shown to be an effective mutagen in a variety of organisms ranging from bacteria to mammalian cells. There is also an association between ethylene oxide exposure and human somatic cell cytogenetic damage. Furthermore, ethylene oxide has been shown to alkylate protein and DNA at exposure levels that have been encountered occupationally. Ethylene oxide is not only effective at producing somatic cell mutations but also at inducing genetic damage in germ cells. While it is clear that ethylene oxide is a germ cell mutagen in whole mammals, the mechanism(s) by which it produces genetic lesions in germ cells is uncertain.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Ethylene Oxide / toxicity*
  • Germ Cells / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Mutagens*
  • Mutation
  • Risk Factors
  • Sister Chromatid Exchange


  • Mutagens
  • Ethylene Oxide