Diethyl Sulfate

Diethyl sulfate is a highly toxic and likely carcinogenic chemical compound with formula (C2H5)2SO4. [fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][1] It is the diethyl ester of sulfuric acid and exists at room temperature as a colourless oily liquid with a faint peppermint odour. Diethyl sulfate is slightly soluble in water, but miscible with alcohol, diethyl ether, and most polar solvents. It readily decomposes in hot water to ethyl hydrogen sulfate and ethyl alcohol. [2]

 

Uses [2]

 

The primary use of diethyl sulfate is as a chemical intermediate (ethylating agent) in synthesis of ethyl derivatives of phenols, amines, and thiols; as an accelerator in the sulfation of ethylene; and in some sulfonation processes. It is used to manufacture dyes, pigments, carbonless paper, and textiles. It is an intermediate in the indirect hydration (strong acid) process for the preparation of synthetic ethanol from ethylene. Smaller quantities are used in household products, cosmetics, agricultural chemicals, pharmaceuticals, and laboratory reagents. In 1966, it was used as a mutagen to create the Luther variety of barley.

 

In the Environment [2]

 

Diethyl sulfate can be released to the environment during its production and use in the synthesis of various intermediates and products. If released to air, diethyl sulfate will exist as a vapour, with a half-life of 9 days by reaction with photochemically produced hydroxyl radicals and a half-life of less than 1 day by hydrolysis. In soil and water, diethyl sulfate will hydrolyse rapidly, with a half-life in water of 1.7 hours. Because of its sensitivity to hydrolysis, the processes of volatilisation, adsorption to soil and sediment, biodegradation, and bioaccumulation are not expected to be significant. Hydrolysis of diethyl sulfate produces monoethyl sulfate and ethanol.

 

Source & Routes of Exposure

 

Sources of Exposure [3]

 

  • The most probable routes of exposure to diethyl sulfate are by dermal contact or inhalation during its production or use.
  • Individuals may also be exposed to diethyl sulfate in the ambient environment from fugitive emissions.

 

Routes of Exposure [2]

 

The routes of potential human exposure to diethyl sulfate are inhalation, ingestion, and dermal contact during its production and use.

 

Health Effects [3]

 

Acute Effects

 

  • No information is available on the acute effects of diethyl sulfate in humans.
  • Tests involving acute exposure of rats, mice, and rabbits have demonstrated diethyl sulfate to have moderate acute toxicity when ingested and high acute toxicity from dermal exposure.

Chronic Effects

 

  • No information is available on the acute effects of diethyl sulfate in humans.
  • Tests involving acute exposure of rats, mice, and rabbits have demonstrated diethyl sulfate to have moderate acute toxicity when ingested and high acute toxicity from dermal exposure.

 

Reproductive/Developmental Effects

 

  • No information is available on the reproductive or developmental effects of diethyl sulfate in humans.
  • After a single subcutaneous dose to pregnant rats, malignant tumours of the nervous system were reported in the offspring.

 

Cancer Risk

 

  • In an epidemiological study, an excess mortality rate from laryngeal cancer was associated with occupational exposure to high concentrations of diethyl sulfate.
  • In one study, rats exposed to diethyl sulfate by gavage (experimentally placing the chemical in the stomach) developed tumours in the forestomach. In another study, local tumours and metastasis of the lung were observed in rats exposed by subcutaneous injection.
  • EPA has not classified diethyl sulfate with respect to potential carcinogenicity.

 

Safety [4]

 

First Aid Measures

 

  • General advice: Consult a physician. Show safety data sheet to the doctor in attendance.
  • If inhaled: Move person into fresh air. If not breathing, give artificial respiration. Consult a physician.
  • In case of skin contact: Take off contaminated clothing and shoes immediately. Wash off with soap and plenty of water. Take victim immediately to hospital. 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: Do NOT induce vomiting. Never give anything by mouth to an unconscious person. Rinse mouth with water. Consult a physician.

 

Exposure Controls & Personal Protection

 

Engineering Controls

 

  • Avoid contact with skin, eyes and clothing.
  • Wash hands before breaks and immediately after handling the product.

 

Personal Protective Equipment

 

The following personal protective Equipment is recommended when handling diethyl sulfate:

 

  • Eye/face protection: Tightly fitting safety goggles. Faceshield (8-inch minimum). 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: Complete suit protecting against chemicals. The type of protective equipment must be selected according to the concentration and amount of the dangerous substance at the specific workplace.
  • Respiratory protection: Where risk assessment shows air-purifying respirators are appropriate use a full-face respirator with multi-purpose combination (US) or type ABEK (EN 14387) respirator cartridges as a backup to engineering controls. If the respirator is the sole means of protection, use a full-face supplied air respirator. Use respirators and components tested and approved under appropriate government standards such as NIOSH (US) or CEN (EU).

 

Regulation

 

United States [5]

 

No workplace exposure standards established.

 

Australia [6]

 

No workplace exposure standards established.

 

International [3]

 

IARC has classified diethyl sulfate as a Group 2A, probably carcinogenic to humans, based on limited evidence in humans and sufficient evidence in animals.

 

References

 

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diethyl_sulfate
  2. https://ntp.niehs.nih.gov/ntp/roc/content/profiles/diethylsulfate.pdf
  3. http://www3.epa.gov/airtoxics/hlthef/diethyls.html
  4. http://www.sigmaaldrich.com/MSDS/MSDS/DisplayMSDSPage.do?country=AU&language=en&productNumber=D100706&brand=ALDRICH&PageToGoToURL=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.sigmaaldrich.com%2Fcatalog%2Fproduct%2Faldrich%2Fd100706%3Flang%3Den
  5. https://www.osha.gov/dts/chemicalsampling/data/CH_235220.html
  6. http://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/sites/SWA/about/Publications/Documents/772/Workplace-exposure-standards-airborne-contaminants.pdf

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