International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) - Summaries & Evaluations

(Group 1)

(Group 3)

(Group 3)

For definition of Groups, see Preamble Evaluation.

Supplement 7: (1987) (p. 229)

Isopropyl alcohol
CAS No.: 67-63-0
Chem. Abstr. Name: 2-Propanol

A. Evidence for carcinogenicity to humans (sufficient for the manufacture of isopropyl alcohol by the strong-acid process; inadequate for isopropyl alcohol and for isopropyl oils)

An increased incidence of cancer of the paranasal sinuses was observed in workers at factories where isopropyl alcohol was manufactured by the strong-acid process [ref: 1,2]. The risk for laryngeal cancer may also have been elevated in these workers [ref: 1]. It is unclear whether the cancer risk is due to the presence of diisopropyl sulphate, which is an intermediate in the process, to isopropyl oils, which are formed as by-products, or to other factors, such as sulphuric acid. Epidemiological data concerning the manufacture of isopropyl alcohol by the weak-acid process are insufficient for an evaluation of carcinogenicity [ref: 3].

B. Evidence for carcinogenicity to animals (inadequate for isopropyl alcohol and for isopropyl oils)

Isopropyl oils, formed during the manufacture of isopropyl alcohol by both the strong-acid and weak-acid processes, were tested inadequately in mice by inhalation, skin application and subcutaneous administration. Isopropyl oils formed during the strong-acid process were also tested inadequately in dogs by inhalation and instillation into the sinuses [ref: 1].

The available data on isopropyl alcohol were inadequate for evaluation [ref: 1].

C. Other relevant data

No data were available to the Working Group.

Overall evaluation

Isopropyl alcohol manufacture (strong-acid process) is carcinogenic to humans (Group 1).

Isopropyl alcohol is not classifiable as to its carcinogenicity to humans (Group 3).

Isopropyl oils are not classifiable as to its carcinogenicity to humans (Group 3).

For definition of the italicized terms, see Preamble Evaluation.

Subsequent evaluation: Vol. 71 (1999) (Isopropyl oils)

Also see previous evaluation: Vol. 15 (1977) (Isopropyl alcohol and isopropyl oils)


1. IARC Monographs, 15, 223-243, 1977

2. Alderson, M.R. & Rattan, N.S. (1980) Mortality of workers on an isopropyl alcohol plant and two MEK dewaxing plants. Br. J. ind. Med., 37, 85-89

3. Wright, U. (1979) The hidden carcinogen in the manufacture of isopropyl alcohol. In: Deichmann, W.B., ed., Toxicology and Occupational Medicine, New York, Elsevier, pp. 93-97

Synonyms for Isopropyl alcohol

Last updated: 13 April 1999

    See Also:
       Toxicological Abbreviations