1,2-Dichloroethane Profile

1,2-Dichloroethane Profile

General Information

1,2-Dichloroethane is a clear, colourless, oily liquid with a chloroform-like pleasant odour[1] and volatile properties.[2] It is an important industrial chemical, particularly when used as an intermediate in producing polyvinyl chloride.[2]

1,2-Dichloroethane may also be referred to as ethylene dichloride.[1] There are numerous other synonyms and product names; see Hazardous Substances Data Bank (HSDB) for more information.[3]

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.[4] 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.[2] 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.[4]

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.[2]

Regulations and Guidelines

Occupational exposure limits (OEL) [5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13,14,15,16,17,18,19]

Canadian JurisdictionsOEL (ppm)
Canada Labour Code10
BC, QC1
2 [stel]
AB, MB, ON, NL, PE, NB, NS10
SK, NU10
20 [stel]
YT50
75 [stel]
NT10
15 [stel]
Other JurisdictionOEL (ppm)
ACGIH 2020 TLV10
ppm = parts per million
stel = short term exposure limit (15 min. maximum)
ACGIH = American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists
TLV = threshold limit value

Canadian environmental guidelines and standards*

JurisdictionLimitYear
Drinking Water Guidelines (Canada, BC) and Standards (ON, QC, SK**)0.005 mg/L2003-2020[20,21,22,23,24]
BC’s Contaminated Sites Regulation, BC Reg 375/96Sets soil standards for the protection of human health:
Agricultural and low density residential sites: 75 μg/g
Urban park and high density residential sites: 150 μg/g
Commercial and industrial sites: 350 μg/g

 

Drinking water: 5 μg/L

Sets vapour standards for the protection of human health:
Agricultural, urban park, residential uste standard: 7 μg/m3
Commercial use standard: 20 μg/m3
Industrial use standard: 65 μg/m3
Parkade use standard: 55 μg/m3

2016[25]
Ontario Ambient Air Quality CriteriaAnnual: 0.4 µg/m3
24-hour: 2 µg/m3
2016[26]
Ontario’s Air Pollution – Local Air Quality Regulation Standards24-hour: 2 µg/m3; Discharge of 1,2-dichloroethane into the air that leads to levels exceeding the 24-hour standard is prohibited2020[27]
*Standards are legislated and legally enforceable, while guidelines (including Ontario ambient air quality criteria) describe concentrations of contaminants in the environment (e.g. air, water) that are protective against adverse health, environmental, or aesthetic (e.g. odour) effects
** Interim maximum acceptable concentration

Canadian agencies/organizations

AgencyDesignation/PositionYear
Health CanadaDSL – low priority substance (already risk managed)2006[28]
CEPASchedule 1, paragraph ‘c’ (human health)1999[29]
CCME National Classification System for Contaminated SitesHigh hazard, potential human carcinogen2008[30]
Environment Canada’s National Pollutant Release InventoryReportable to NPRI if manufactured, processed, or otherwise used at quantities greater than 10 tonnes or if released at quantities greater than 1 tonne of 10-tonne total VOC air release2016[31]
DSL = domestic substance list
CEPA = Canadian Environmental Protection Agency
CCME = Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment

1,2-Dichloroethane was not included in other Canadian government guidelines, standards, or chemical listings reviewed.

Main Uses

1,2-Dichloroethane is used primarily to produce vinyl chloride monomer,[1] 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.[2,32]

The use of 1,2-dichloroethane as a lead scavenging agent in gasoline is declining,[3] although the extent of its current use in aircraft fuel is not clear.[32] Historically, 1,2-dichloroethane was used in ore flotation and metal degreasing, as a grain, household and soil fumigant,[2] and as a solvent to clean textiles and process pharmaceuticals.[1]

Canadian Production and Trade

Production and trade

ActivityQuantityYear
Export02015[33]
Import17 t2015[33]
t = tonne

Environmental Exposures Overview

The main source of exposure to 1,2-dichloroethane for the general population is indoor air.[34,35] 1,2-Dichloroethane has rarely been detected in food and there is low potential for bioaccumulation.[35,36] Exposure may also occur by consuming contaminated water, but because 1,2-dichloroethane evaporates quickly from water into air, this risk is decreased.[2,35]

The main sources of 1,2-dichloroethane emissions in Canada were from its manufacture and distribution, and its use in producing vinyl chloride.[2,35,37] Hazardous waste sites are also a source of emissions.[2]

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.[38]

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.[34] 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.[34] 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.[35] Canadians’ total daily intake of 1,2-dichloroethane has been estimated to be 0.43-0.70 µg/kg-body weight/day.[34]

In the past, household products such as cleaning products, pesticides, and carpet/wallpaper glues contained 1,2-dichloroethane.[2,35] Currently, no household products in the U.S. Household Products Database were listed with 1,2-dichloroethane as an ingredient.[39] A search of the National Pollutant Reporting Inventory (NPRI) yielded the following results on current potential for exposure to 1,2-dichloroethane in Canada:

NPRI database

NPRI 2015[40]
Substance name: ‘1,2-Dichloroethane’
CategoryQuantityIndustry
Released into Environment0.284 tChemical manufacturing,
waste treatment and disposal (5 facilities)
Disposed of0.047 t
Sent to off-site recyclingNone
t = tonne

Occupational Exposures Overview

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 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.

For more information, see the occupational exposure estimate for 1,2-dichloroethane.

Sources

Photo: Wikimedia Commons, Paul Goyette

1. National Toxicology Profile (NTP). 14th report on carcinogens for 1,2-Dichloroethane (2016) (PDF)
2. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR). Toxicological Profile for 1,2-Dichloroethane (2001) (PDF)
3. US National Library of Medicine. Hazardous Substances Data Bank (HSDB) (2001) (Search term: ‘1,2-Dichloroethane’)
4. International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). Monograph summary, Volume 71 (1999) (PDF)
10. Government of Newfoundland and Labrador. Regulation 5,12 Occupational Health and Safety Regulations (2018)
11. Government of the Northwest Territories. Occupational Health and Safety Regulations, R-039-2015 (2020) (PDF)
13. The Canadian Legal Information Institute (CanLII). Government of Nunavut’s Occupational Health and Safety Regulations, Nu Reg 003-2016 (2010)
15. Government of Prince Edward Island. Occupational Health and Safety Act Regulations Chapter 0-1 (2013) (PDF)
17. Government of Saskatchewan. The Occupational Health and Safety Regulations, 1996 (2016) (PDF)
18. The Canadian Legal Information Institute (CanLII). Yukon’s Occupational Health Regulations, O.I.C. 1986/164 (2020) (PDF)
19. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Annotated PELs (2020)
21. Government of British Columbia. Source Drinking Water Quality Guidelines (2020) (PDF)
22. The Canadian Legal Information Institute (CanLII). Ontario Drinking Water Quality Standards, O Reg 169/03 (2020)
23. The Canadian Legal Information Institute (CanLII). Regulation respecting the quality of drinking water, CQLR c Q-2, r 40 (2020)
25. Government of British Columbia. Contaminated Sites Regulation B.C. Reg. 375/96 (2019)
26. Government of Ontario. Ontario’s Ambient Air Quality Criteria (2019)
29. Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA). Toxic Substances List (2016)
30. Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (CCME). National Classification System for Contaminated Sites (2008) (PDF)
32. Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). SIDS Initial Assessment Report for 14th SIAM, UNEP Publications (2002) (PDF)
33. International Trade Centre. TradeMap (2018) (Free subscription required)
34. Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA). Priority Substances List assessment report CEPA for 1,2-Dichloroethane (1994) (PDF)
37. Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA). Canada Gazette – Export of Substances under the Rotterdam Convention(2002)
38. Environmental Performance Agreement (EPA). EPA with Dow Chemical Canada (2016)
39. US National Library of Medicine. Household Products Database (2017) (Search term: ‘1,2-Dichloroethane’)
40. Environment and Climate Change Canada. National Pollutant Release Inventory (NPRI) Facility Search (2019) (Substance name: ‘1,2-dichloroethane’)

    

Other Resources

  1. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR). ToxFAQs Sheet for 1,2-Dichloroethane (2010) (PDF)
  2. Government of Canada. 1,2-Dichloroethane Document (1987) (PDF)
  3. World Health Organization (WHO). Water Sanitation and Health: Environmental Levels and Human Exposure
  4. World Health Organization. Guidelines for Drinking-water Quality. Fourth edition. (2011) (PDF)
  5. Ministry of the Environment Ontario. Ontario Drinking Water Surveillance Program Summary Report for 2000, 2001, and 2002(PDF)

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