|Chemical Abstract Number (CAS #)||
|Synonyms||Diethyl ether||Ethyl ether||Ethane, 1,1'-oxybis-
||EPA Method 524.2||EPA Method 8015
||EPA Method 8260
Link to the National Library of Medicine's Hazardous Substances
Database for more details
on this compound.
|Use|| SOLVENT FOR WAXES, FATS, OILS, PERFUMES, ALKALOIDS, GUMS,
NITROCELLULOSE WHEN MIXED WITH ALCOHOL; MFR OF GUN POWDER; AS
PRIMER FOR GASOLINE ENGINES; REAGENT FOR ORG SYNTHESES; EXTRACTANT
OF ACTIVE PRINCIPLES (HORMONES, ETC) FROM PLANT & ANIMAL TISSUES
MEDICATION: INHALATION ANESTHETIC; VET: INHALATION ANESTHETIC
INT FOR MONOETHANOLAMINE, ETHYLENE; DENATURANT FOR ETHYL ALC
MEDICATION (VET): ANTISPASMODIC, RUBEFACIENT
For azeotropic distillation entrainer to obtain better separation.
"Unrefined" grade is used as component of cold weather starting fluids for diesel and gasoline
engines, usually blended with other volatile, flammable materials such as propane and butane.
SURFACE ANTISEPTIC & CLEANSING AGENT. INC IN RUBEFACIENT
LINIMENTS. IN EXPECTORANT COUGH MIXT AS A CARMINIATIVE.
Organic synthesis, smokeless powder, industrial solvent (nitrocellulose, alkaloids, fats, waxes,
etc); analytical chemistry, anesthetic, extractant.
Ethyl ether is most common solvent used for Grignard reagents.
|Consumption Patterns|| 65% AS A SOLVENT; 25% IN CHEM SYNTH (INCL AS AN INT FOR
MONOETHANOLAMINE AND ETHYLENE); 3% AS A GENERAL ANESTHETIC AND IN
OTHER MEDICAL USES; AND 7% IN MISC USES (INCL AS A DENATURANT FOR
Solvent & chemical syntheses, 75%; Diesel & gasoline engine starting fluids, 25% (1983) (1984)]
|Apparent Color|| TRANSPARENT, COLORLESS, MOBILE LIQUID
|Odor|| SWEETISH, PUNGENT
|Boiling Point|| 34.6 DEG C @ 760 MM HG
|Melting Point|| -116.3 DEG C (STABLE CRYSTALS); -123.3 DEG C (METASTABLE CRYSTALS)
|Molecular Weight|| 74.12
|Density|| 0.7134 @ 20 DEG C/4 DEG C
|Odor Threshold Concentration|| 0.83 ppm (purity not given)
Odor detection: in water= 5.83 ppm; in air= 5.83 mg/l (gas); in air: 7.00x10(-1) ppm Purities not
0.99 mg/cu m (odor low) 3.0 mg/cu m (odor high)
|Sensitivity Data|| Repeated exposures in excess of 400 ppm may cause nasal irritation.
Causes a transitory smarting sensation if splashed in the eye or if a high vapor concn contacts the
Complaints of nasal irritation began at 200 ppm, and 300 ppm was objectionable as a working
atmosphere. Irritation to the eyes does occur from exposure either to liquid, or to high concn
Irritating: 300 mg/cu m From table
|Environmental Impact|| Diethyl ether may be released to the environment as a result of its use including use as an
industrial solvent and extractant, in the production of smokeless gunpowder, and as a primer for
gasoline. If diethyl ether is released to soil, it will be subject to volatilization. It will be expected
to exhibit high mobility in soil and, therefore, it may leach to groundwater. If diethyl ether is
released to water, it will not be expected to significantly adsorb to sediment or suspended
particulate matter, bioconcentrate in aquatic organisms or hydrolyze, based upon estimated
physical-chemical properties or analogies to other structurally related aliphatic ethers. It will not
significantly photooxidize via reaction with photochemically produced hydroxyl radicals in the
water. Diethyl ether in surface water will be subject to rapid volatilization with estimated
half-lives of 3.1 hr and 1.5 days for volatilization from a river one meter deep flowing 1 m/sec
with a wind velocity of 3 m/sec and a model pond respectively. Data from aqueous screening
studies suggest that diethyl ether is resistent to biodegradation in environmental media. It will not
be expected to hydrolyze in water or soil. If diethyl ether is released to the atmosphere, it will be
expected to exist almost entirely in the vapor phase based upon a reported vapor pressure of 537
mm Hg at 25 deg C. It will be susceptible to photooxidation via vapor phase reaction with
photochemically produced hydroxyl radicals with a half-life of 29 hr estimated for this process.
Direct photolysis will not be an important removal process since diethyl ether does not absorb
light at wavelenghts >290. The most probable routes of general population exposure to diethyl
ether are via inhalation of contaminated air and ingestion of contaminated drinking water.
Exposure through dermal contact may occur in occupational settings. Inhalation and dermal
exposure will be expected to be highest in workplaces where diethyl ether is made and used.
|Environmental Fate|| TERRESTRIAL FATE: If diethyl ether is released to soil, it will be subject to
volatilization based upon the reported Henry's Law constant 1.35X10-3 atm-cu m/mole and
vapor pressure of 537 mm Hg at 25 deg C . It will be expected to exhibit high mobility(5,SRC)
in soil and, therefore, it may leach to groundwater, based upon an estimated Koc of 73(3,4,SRC).
It will not be expected to hydrolyze in soil . Aqueous screening test data from studies using
activated sludge or sewage inocula suggest that diethyl ether is resistent to biodegradation in
AQUATIC FATE: If diethyl ether is released to water, it will not be expected to significantly
adsorb to sediment or suspended particulate matter(1,2,SRC), bioconcentrate in aquatic
organisms(1,2,SRC) or hydrolyze , based upon estimated physical-chemical properties or
analogies to other structurally related aliphatic ethers(1,2,SRC). It will not directly photolyze
nor significantly photooxidize via reaction with photochemically produced hydroxyl radicals in the
water . Diethyl ether in surface water will be subject to rapid volatilization(2,5,SRC). Using a
reported Henry's Law constant of 1.35X10-3 atm-cu m/mole , a half-life for volatilization of
diethyl ether from a river one meter deep flowing 1 m/sec with a wind velocity of 3 m/sec has
been estimated to be 3.1 hr at 25 deg C(2,SRC). The volatilization half-life from a model pond,
which considers the effect of adsorption, has been estimated to be 1.5 days(6). Screening test data
from studies using activated sludge or sewage inocula suggest that diethyl ether is resistant to
biodegradation in environmental media(7,8,SRC).
ATMOSPHERIC FATE: If diethyl ether is released to the atmosphere, it will be expected to exist
almost entirely in the vapor phase based upon a reported vapor pressure of 537 mm Hg at 25
deg C . It will be susceptible to photooxidation via vapor phase reaction with photochemically
produced hydroxyl radicals. An atmospheric half-life of 29 hours at an atmospheric concentration
of 5X10 5 hydroxyl radicals per cu cm has been calculated for this process based upon a
measured rate constant(1,SRC). Direct photolysis will not be an important removal process since
diethyl ether does not absorb light at wavelengths >290 nm .
|Drinking Water Impact|| DRINKING WATER: Diethyl ether was detected, not quantified, in drinking water from
the Torresdale Water Treatment Plant in Philadelphia, PA; it was found in samples taken one day
out of seven days between Feb 1975 and January 1977 . It was not detected in drinking water
from 2 other treatment plants or in tap water from within the distribution system sampled between
Aug 1975 and Sept 1976 . It has been detected, not quantified, in drinking water 3 of 10 U.S.
cities (Miami, FL, Philadelphia, PA, and Cincinnati, OH, were positive) in the National Organics
Reconnaissance Survey that was initiated in 1974 . It has been detected, but not quantified, in
drinking water from unidentified sources .
GROUNDWATER: Diethyl ether was detected at a concn of 2.5 ug/L in 1 of 6 drinking water
wells located downstream from a municipal and industrial solid waste landfill, Army Creek landfill
- 60 miles southwest of Wilmington, DE . It also was detected at 2.5 ug/L in the major
recovery well that was removing the contaminated groundwater . Overall, it was detected in
25% of the groundwater samples analyzed in the study . It was detected in 1982 at concn up to
approx 1000 ug/L in an outwash aquifer contaminated by leachate from an organic chemical
waste landfill near Ottawa, Canada, which accepted wastes between 1969 and 1980 . Diethyl
ether was detected, but not quantified, in groundwater classified as uncontaminated (by inorganic
indices) at 1 of 7 Minnesota municipal solid waste landfills sites tested; it was not found in
leachates from 6 landfill sites collected between 1958 and 1978 or in groundwater samples
classified as uncontaminated (by inorganic indices) at 1 of 13 landfills sites tested . In the
Netherlands it was detected at conc ranging from 4 ppb to 15 ppm in groundwater around a
chemical water incineration site at which water were mass burned in massive piles of steal
drums . It was detected in the leachate plume at the Gloucester landfill, Ottawa, Canada at
concn greater than 500 ppb .
SURFACE WATER: Diethyl ether has been detected, not quantified, in samples of water from
the Niagara River and the Cuyahoga River, a tributary of Lake Erie . It has been found in the
following Lake Michigan basin locations sampled in 1975 and 1976: Calumet - Sag Channel, 5
ug/L; Chicago Sanitary and Ship Channel, 3 ug/L . Diethyl ether was found in samples of
surface water from 9 of 204 sites near heavily industrialized areas across the USA sampled
between Aug 1975 and Sept 1976 . The concn ranged between 1 and 10 ppb in the samples
where diethyl ether was found and the avg concn was 4.6 ppb .
EFFL: Diethyl ether has been detected in 9 out of 63 samples of industrial effluents collected from
a wide variety of industries across the U.S. (dates not reported) . Six of the positive samples
contained <10 ug/L diethyl ether, 2 samples contained 10-100 ug/L and 1 sample contained >100
ug/L . It has been found at the following concn in the effluent of 3 out of 3 sewage treatment
plants which discharge in to Lake Michigan: West Side Sewage Treatment Plant, 1 ug/L; North
Side Sewage Treatment Plant, 8 ug/L; Calumet Sewage Treatment Plant, 10 ug/L . It also has
been found in the effluent from the Chicago Central water works at 5 ug/L .