ToxFAQs™ for 1,2-Dichloroethane
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What is 1,2-dichloroethane?
1,2-Dichloroethane is a man-made, clear, oily liquid not found naturally in the environment. It is mainly used to help make plastic and vinyl products, such as polyvinyl chloride (PVC) pipes and other construction materials. 1,2-Dichloroethane is also added to leaded gasoline that is used in aircrafts, racing vehicles, and farm equipment. 1,2-Dichloroethane was formerly used in certain consumer household products such as cleaning agents and adhesives, but is generally no longer available for consumer purchase.
What happens to 1,2-dichloroethane in the environment?
- 1,2-Dichloroethane is released into the air during its production or use, where it eventually breaks downwhen exposed to sunlight.
- 1,2-Dichloroethane is released into rivers and lakes in industrial waste, but it can evaporate into the airquickly. Once in the air, 1,2-dichloroethane can travel long distances and can stay in the air for over 5months.
- When released into the ground, 1,2-dichloroethane is expected to evaporate into the air or drain intogroundwater.
- 1,2-Dichloroethane is not expected to naturally build up in the animal- or plant-sourced foods we eat.
How can I be exposed to 1,2-dichloroethane?
- You might breathe in 1,2-dichloroethane from contaminated air.
- You might eat, drink, or swallow 1,2-dichloroethane from contaminated drinking water.
- Skin contact to 1,2-dichloroethane is possible from contaminated water. There is a very small chancethat it could also get on your skin from using old and discontinued household cleaning products, such ascarpet and textile cleaners, that contain the chemical.
- People living near hazardous waste sites containg 1,2-dichloroethane may be exposed to higher levels ofit when compared to the general public.
- Infants may be exposed to 1,2-dichloroethane in breast milk if the mother has has been exposedthrough contaminated air, water, or food. In animals, 1,2-dichloroethane has crossed the placenta to thefetus of exposed mothers.
How can 1,2-dichloroethane affect my health?
- If a large amounts are breathed in, eaten, or swallowed, 1,2-dichloroethane can cause nausea, vomiting,blurred vision, difficulty breathing, liver or kidney problems, or death.
- In animals, 1,2-dichloroethane causes effects similar to those seen in humans. Additionally, tumors havebeen found in the lungs, reproductive system, brains, and livers of animals.
- Studies in animals have also shown that 1,2-dichloroethane can damage the immune system.
- 1,2-Dichloroethane is not expected to cause developmental effects in children. In animals, 1,2-dichloroethane may cause reproductive problems in males.
Can 1,2-dichloroethane cause cancer?
There have been several agencies and organizations both in the United States and internationally that have reviewed studies and made an assessment about whether 1,2-dichloroethane could cause cancer.
Can I get a medical test to check for 1,2-dichloroethane?
There are tests to measure 1,2-dichloroethane in blood, urine, adipose tissue, breast milk, and breath. However, these tests would have to be done soon after a suspected exposure (within a couple of days), since the chemical leaves the body quickly. These tests would only show if a person had been exposed and do not predict health problems.
How can I protect my family from 1,2-dichloroethane exposure?
- Avoid exposure to air, water or dirt contaminated with high amounts of 1,2-dichloroethane.
- Do not let children play in the dirt near hazardous waste sites where 1,2-dichloroethane may havebeen discarded.
- If you work with or handle 1,2-dichloroethane, wear personal protective equipment to minimizebreathing in or touching the chemical.
- Do not let the chemical stay on your skin or get in your eyes.
- To lower exposure in your house, follow the directions to safely throw away older cleaning productsthat might contain 1,2-dichloroethane.
For more information:
Call CDC-INFO at 1-800-232-4636, or submit your question online at
Go to ATSDR’s Toxicological Profile for 1,2-Dichloroethane: https://wwwn.cdc.gov/TSP/ToxProfiles/ToxProfiles.aspx?id=592&tid=110
Visit ATSDR’s Toxic Substances Portal: https://wwwn.cdc.gov/TSP/index.aspx
Find & contact your ATSDR Regional Representative at https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/DRO/dro_org.html