1,2-Dichloroethane Occupational Exposures

1,2-Dichloroethane Occupational Exposures


Inhalation is the most important route of occupational exposure, although there is potential for ingestion and dermal contact.[1] CAREX Canada estimates that approximately 2,000 Canadian workers are exposed to 1,2-dichloroethane.


The largest industrial groups exposed are basic chemical manufacturing followed by warehousing and storage. Other significant industries associated with 1,2-dichloroethane exposures include management, scientific and technical consulting services; remediation and management of waste; and soap, cleaning compound, and toilet preparation manufacturing. The largest exposure groups by occupation are chemical plant machine operators, material handlers, and central control and process operators for petroleum, gas, and chemical processing.

Prevalence Estimate

Results show that nearly 2,000 Canadians are exposed to 1,2-dichloroethane in their workplaces; 77% of these workers are male.

The largest industrial groups exposed are basic chemical manufacturing, warehousing and storage, and management of scientific and technical consulting services. Other important industries associated with 1,2-dichloroethane exposure involve remediation and management of waste and soap, cleaning compound, and toilet preparation manufacturing. When exposure is examined by occupation, the largest exposed group is chemical plant machine operators (400), material handlers (320), and central control and process operators for petroleum, gas, and chemical processing (290), and other labourers in processing, manufacturing and utilities (225).

The number of workers exposed to 1,2-dichloroethane remained approximately the same from 2006 to 2016 (a 1% increase).

Workers exposed to 1,2-dichloroethane by industry in 2016

Workers exposed to 1,2-dichloroethane by region in 2016

Click the second tab to view total number of workers exposed.

* = < 50 workers
Methods and Data

Our Occupational Approach page outlines the general approach used to calculate prevalence and exposure level estimates for workplace exposures.

Data Sources

Data used in developing the occupational estimates for 1,2-dichloroethane were collected from several sources:

  1. The Canadian Workplace Exposure Database (CWED) contains less than 100 measurements for 1,2-dichloroethane exposure. These measurements were collected during the years 1981 to 2004 in Ontario and British Columbia workplaces.
  2. Canadian and US scientific peer reviewed publications that addressed 1,2-dichloroethane exposure in Canada and the United States.
  3. Grey literature including technical reports from governments and international bodies.

Prevalence Estimate Method

CAREX defines exposure to 1,2-dichloroethane as inhalation at work to levels significantly exceeding non-occupational background levels.

To determine the number of workers potentially exposed to 1,2-dichloroethane at work, CAREX occupational exposure experts used methods previously established in other peer-reviewed CAREX projects in Europe. A series of steps were taken to assign exposure proportions to occupations and industries at risk of exposure to 1,2-dichloroethane.

  1. Occupations and industries at risk of possible exposure to 1,2-dichloroethane were identified using any combination of data sources described above.
  2. The total number of workers in each identified occupation and industry intersection was obtained from Statistics Canada 2016 census data.
  3. A percentage of workers exposed was assigned to that occupation and industry intersection. Percentages were determined by consultation with existing evidence in the data sources, previously established methods from the Europe CAREX estimates and the expert judgement of CAREX occupational hygienists.
  4. The number of workers in the identified group is multiplied by the assigned percentage to calculate the prevalence estimate of workers exposed to 1,2-dichloroethane.

1. National Toxicology Profile (NTP). 14th report on carcinogens for 1,2-Dichloroethane (2016) (PDF)

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As a national organization, our work extends across borders into many Indigenous lands throughout Canada. We gratefully acknowledge that our host institution, the University of British Columbia Point Grey campus, is located on the traditional, ancestral and unceded territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) people.