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Description of key information

Key value for chemical safety assessment

Justification for classification or non-classification

No classification for carcinogenicity is proposed for selenous acid since according to ATSDR (2003) “there is no evidence to support a causal association between selenium compounds and cancer in humans. In fact, some epidemiological and experimental evidence suggests that selenium exposure under certain conditions may contribute to a reduction in cancer risk. The chemopreventive potential of supplemental selenium is currently under research. "

Additional information

Only supportive data are available on carcinogenicity of selenous acid (Soullier, 1981). According to the expert judgement of ATSDR (2003) no carcinogenic effect was observed in this study: the total carcinogenic challenge (initiator + promoter) used in these experiments was considerably higher than in previous studies. Even with this increased challenge, the selenium supplement (8 ppm H2SeO3) had a significant inhibitory effect on a colonic carcinogenesis.


ATSDR (2003). Agency for toxic substances and disease registry. Toxicological profile for selenium. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Services, Atlanta, Georgia.