Bis(2-chloroethyl) ether (also known as bis dichloroethyl ether), molecular formula C4H8Cl2O, is a colourless, nonflammable liquid with a strong unpleasant odour. It dissolves easily in water, and some of it will slowly evaporate to the air. It does not occur naturally. [1,2]

Uses [3]

  • Bis(2-chloroethyl) ether is primarily used as a chemical intermediate for the manufacture of pesticides.
  • A small amount of bis(2-chloroethyl) ether is used as a solvent.
  • In the past, bis(2-chloroethyl) ether was used as a solvent for fats, waxes, greases, and esters.
  • It has also been used as a constituent of paints and varnishes, as a cleaning fluid for textiles, and in the purification of oils and gasoline.

In the Environment [2]

  • Bis(2-chloroethyl) ether released to air can be broken down by reactions with other chemicals and sunlight or can be removed by rain.
  • In water, it can be broken down by bacteria.
  • When released to soil, some will filter through the soil to groundwater, some will be broken down by bacteria, and some will evaporate to the air.
  • Bis(2-chloroethyl) ether does not build up in the food chain.

Sources & Routes of Exposure

Sources of Exposure [2]

  • You are most likely to be exposed to bis(2-chloroethyl) ether if you work in a factory where it is made or used.
  • People who live near a waste site or industrial facility containing bis(2-chloroethyl) ether may be exposed to it in the air they breathe or by touching contaminated soil.
  • You could be exposed if you drank water that was contaminated with bis(2-chloroethyl) ether.

Routes of Exposure [4]

Bis(2-chloroethyl) ether can affect the body if it is inhaled, comes in contact with the eyes or skin, or swallowed. It may enter the body through the skin.

Health Effects [3]

Acute Effects

  • Acute inhalation exposure to bis(2-chloroethyl) ether in humans results in extreme irritation of the respiratory tract and skin.
  • Animal studies have reported respiratory effects such as irritation of the nose and eyes; congestion, oedema, and haemorrhage of the lung; congestion of the brain, liver, and kidneys; and central nervous system (CNS) effects from inhalation exposure to bis(2-chloroethyl) ether.
  • Acute animal tests in rats and mice have shown bis(2-chloroethyl) ether to have high acute toxicity from inhalation and oral exposure and extreme acute toxicity from dermal exposure.

Chronic Effects

  • No information is available on the chronic (long-term) effects of bis(2-chloroethyl) ether in humans.
  • Animal studies have reported decreased body weights in rats exposed to bis(2-chloroethyl) ether by inhalation and oral exposure.
  • EPA has not established a Reference Concentration (RfC) or a Reference Dose (RfD) for bis(2-chloroethyl) ether.
  • ATSDR has calculated an intermediate inhalation minimal risk level (MRL) of 0.1 milligrams per cubic meter (mg/m3) (0.02 parts per million [ppm]) based on decreased body weights in rats.

Reproductive/Developmental Effects

  • No information is available on the developmental or reproductive effects of bis(2-chloroethyl) ether in humans.
  • In one animal study, no effects were observed on the reproductive tissues of the animals, but no tests on reproductive function were performed.

Cancer Risk

  • No information is available on the carcinogenic effects of bis(2-chloroethyl) ether in humans.
  • Animal studies have reported an increased incidence of liver tumours in mice exposed to bis(2-chloroethyl) ether via oral exposure.
  • EPA has classified bis(2-chloroethyl) ether as a Group B2, probable human carcinogen.

Safety [5]

First Aid Measures

  • General advice: Consult a physician. Show this safety data sheet to the doctor in attendance.
  • If inhaled: If breathed in, move person into fresh air. If not breathing, give artificial respiration. Consult a physician.
  • In case of skin contact: Wash off with soap and plenty of water. Consult a physician.
  • In case of eye contact: Rinse thoroughly with plenty of water for at least 15 minutes and consult a physician.
  • If swallowed: Never give anything by mouth to an unconscious person. Rinse mouth with water. Consult a physician.

Fire Information

  • Suitable extinguishing media: Use water spray, alcohol-resistant foam, dry chemical or carbon dioxide.
  • Special hazards arising from the substance or mixture: Carbon oxides, nitrogen oxides (NOx), Hydrogen chloride gas
  • Firefighters should wear self contained breathing apparatus for fire fighting if necessary.

Exposure Controls & Personal Protection

Engineering Controls

  • Handle in accordance with good industrial hygiene and safety practice.
  • Wash hands before breaks and at the end of workday.

Personal Protective Equipment

The following personal protective equipment is recommended when handling bis(2-chloroethyl) ether:

  • Eye/face protection: Safety glasses with side-shields conforming to EN166 Use equipment for eye protection tested and approved under appropriate government standards such as NIOSH (US) or EN 166(EU).
  • Skin protection: Handle with gloves. Gloves must be inspected prior to use. Use proper glove removal technique (without touching glove’s outer surface) to avoid skin contact with this product. Dispose of contaminated gloves after use in accordance with applicable laws and good laboratory practices. Wash and dry hands. The selected protective gloves have to satisfy the specifications of EU Directive 89/686/EEC and the standard EN 374 derived from it.
  • Body Protection: Impervious clothing. The type of protective equipment must be selected according to the concentration and amount of the dangerous substance at the specific workplace.
  • Respiratory protection: For nuisance exposures use type P95 (US) or type P1 (EU EN 143) particle respirator. For higher level protection use type OV/AG/P99 (US) or type ABEK-P2 (EU EN 143) respirator cartridges. Use respirators and components tested and approved under appropriate government standards such as NIOSH (US) or CEN (EU).

Regulation [6]

United States

OSHA: The Occupational Safety & Health Administration has set the following Permissible Exposure Limit (PEL) for bis92-chloroethyl) ether:

  • General Industry: 15 ppm, 90 mg/m3 Ceiling (Skin)
  • Construction Industry: 15 ppm, 90 mg/m3 Ceiling (Skin)

ACGIH: The American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists has set a Threshold Limit Value (TLV) for bis92-chloroethyl) ether of 5 ppm, 29 mg/m3 TWA; 10 ppm, 58 mg/m3 STEL (Skin); Appendix A4 (Not Classifiable as a Human Carcinogen)

NIOSH: The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health has set a Recommended Exposure Limit (REL) for bis92-chloroethyl) ether of 5 ppm TWA (Skin), 10 ppm STEL (Skin), Potential Carcinogen

Australia [7]

Safe Work Australia: Safe Work Australia has set a time weighted average concentration of 5ppm or 29 mg/m3 for an 8 hour workday or 40 hour work week. A short term exposure limit (STEL) of 10ppm or 58 mg/m3 has also been set for bis92-chloroethyl) ether.