Industrial Chemicals– Possible Carcinogen (IARC 2B)
CAS No. 107-06-2
Photo: Wikimedia Commons
IARC Monograph Vol. 71, 1999 (Group 2B)
1,2-Dichloroethane is a clear, colourless, oily liquid with a chloroform-like pleasant odour and volatile properties. It is an important industrial chemical, particularly when used as an intermediate in producing polyvinyl chloride.
1,2-Dichloroethane may also be referred to as ethylene dichloride. There are numerous other synonyms and product names; see Hazardous Substances Data Bank (HSDB) for more information.
1,2-Dichloroethane is classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) as Group 2B, possibly carcinogenic to humans, based on evidence in experimental animals. Studies in mice and rats showed an association between exposure to 1,2-dichloroethane and an increased incidence of tumours at various sites, including the stomach, lung, liver, mammary gland, and uterus. Although excesses of some cancers were observed in epidemiological studies, results specific to 1,2-dichloroethane are inconclusive due to potential exposure to multiple compounds.
Ingestion and/or inhalation exposure to high levels of 1,2-dichloroethane may also cause adverse health effects in the lungs, kidneys, liver, and nervous system.
CCME National Classification System for Contaminated Sites
High hazard, potential human carcinogen
DSL = domestic substance list
CEPA = Canadian Environmental Protection Act
CCME = Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment
1,2-Dichloroethane was not included in other Canadian government chemical listings reviewed.
1,2-Dichloroethane is used primarily to produce vinyl chloride monomer, which is then used to make polyvinyl chloride (PVC). A small quantity of 1,2-dichloroethane is used to produce compounds including ethylenediamines, tri- and tetrachloroethene, aziridines, and various chlorinated solvents used for extracting and cleaning.[3,17]
The use of 1,2-dichloroethane as a lead scavenging agent in gasoline is declining, although the extent of its current use in aircraft fuel is not clear. Historically, 1,2-dichloroethane was used in ore flotation and metal degreasing, as a grain, household and soil fumigant, and as a solvent to clean textiles and process pharmaceuticals.
Canadian Production and Trade
Production and Trade
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Inhalation is the most important route of occupational exposure, although there is potential for ingestion and dermal contact.
CAREX Canada estimates that approximately 2,100 Canadian workers are exposed to 1,2-dichloroethane. The largest industrial groups exposed are basic chemical manufacturing followed by pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing. Other significant industries associated with 1,2-dichloroethane exposures involve soap, cleaning compound, and toilet preparation manufacturing, treatment and management of waste, and petroleum and coal products manufacturing. The largest exposure groups by occupation are chemical plant machine operators and petroleum, gas, and chemical process operators.
The main source of exposure to 1,2-dichloroethane for the general population is indoor air.[19,20] 1,2-Dichloroethane has rarely been detected in food and there is low potential for bioaccumulation.[20,21] Exposure may also occur by consuming contaminated water, but because 1,2-dichloroethane evaporates quickly from water into air, this risk is decreased.[3,20]
The main sources of 1,2-dichloroethane emissions in Canada were from its manufacture and distribution, and its use in producing vinyl chloride[3,20,22]. Hazardous waste sites are also a source of emissions.
Under CEPA's lifecycle management requirements, Dow Chemical Canada Inc's production and storage locations were monitored from 2001-2004. This monitoring recorded a 34% reduction (3,957 kg) in 1,2-dichloroethane emissions at Dow's Fort Saskatchewan plant and a 54% reduction (1,253 kg) from the North Vancouver facility.
Ambient air surveys conducted from 1988-1990 in 12 Canadian cities across six provinces found mean levels of 1,2-dichloroethane ranging from 0.07-0.28 µg/m3. The mean concentration of 1,2-dichloroethane from a 1991 national pilot study of residential indoor air (750 residences, 10 provinces) was 1.8 µg/m3. A more recent personal monitoring study conducted in 2005-2006 in Windsor, Ontario, found levels ranging from 0.080-0.265 µg/m3 indoors, and 0.034-0.046 µg/m3 outdoors.[g] Canadians' total daily intake of 1,2-dichloroethane has been estimated to be 0.43-0.70 µg/kg-body weight/day.
In the past, household products such as cleaning products, pesticides, and carpet/wallpaper glues contained 1,2-dichloroethane.[3,20] Currently, no household products in the U.S. Household Products Database were listed with 1,2-dichloroethane as an ingredient. A search of the National Pollutant Reporting Inventory (NPRI) yielded the following results on current potential for exposure to 1,2-dichloroethane in Canada:
Substance name: '1,2-Dichloroethane'
Released into Environment
Chemical manufacturing, waste treatment and disposal (5 facilities)
Sent to off-site recycling
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Our team has performed a detailed scan of exposure control resources and assembled a compilation of key publications and resources. These are organized by type of exposure (environmental or occupational) and by specificity (general or carcinogen-specific). Please visit our Exposures Reduction Resources page to view.
We also recommend exploring the Prevention Policies Directory, a freely-accessible online tool offering information on policies related to cancer and chronic disease prevention. Providing summaries of the policies and direct access to the policy documents, the Directory allows users to search by carcinogen, risk factor, jurisdiction, geographical location, and document type. Click here to learn more about policies specific to 1,2-dichloroethane in the Directory. For questions about this resource, please contact a member of the Prevention Team at the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer at firstname.lastname@example.org.