Aminocarboxylic acid (ethylenediamine-based) chelating agents, such as DTPA and EDTA, are widely used in a variety of products and processes. Recently the European RAC proposed to classify DTPA as a developmental toxicant Category 1B according to CLP.
This paper provides unequivocal and significant evidence that developmental effects cannot be considered an intrinsic property of the chelating substances themselves since: (1) animals fed a zinc deficient diet during gestation exhibit developmental toxicity of a similar nature and severity to that observed in studies involving such chelates, (2) sufficient supplementation of zinc in the diet, or administration of zinc bound chelates, completely negates the developmental effects. Moreover, the bioavailability of DTPA is very low with >95% of oral doses excreted unchanged via the feces within 24h. If DTPA would possess the intrinsic property to be developmentally toxic, simple zinc supplementation should not be sufficient to negate these effects. Furthermore, the relevance of classification is highly questionable since worker or consumer exposure could not lead to a scenario whereby sufficient zinc deficiency would manifest itself. Therefore classification of DTPA for such effects is not protective of human health; instead it leads to onerous and disproportionate restrictions being placed on this substance.