ToxFAQs™ for Diisopropyl Methylphosphonate
Spanish: Metilfosfonato de Diisopropilo
PDF Versionpdf icon[166 KB]
This fact sheet answers the most frequently
asked health questions about diisopropyl methylphosphonate. For more information, you may call the ATSDR Information Center at 1-888-422-8737. This fact sheet is one in a series of summaries about hazardous substances and their health effects. It is important you understand this information because this substance may harm you. The effects of exposure to any hazardous substance depend on the dose, the duration, how you are exposed, personal traits and habits, and whether other chemicals are present.
Exposure to diisopropyl methylphosphonate would only occur if you live near the area where it was made and stored. Diisopropyl methylphosphonate may cause skin rashes if your skin comes in contact with it. This chemical has been found in at least 2 of the 1,416 National Priorities List sites identified by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
What is diisopropyl methylphosphonate?
Diisopropyl methylphosphonate is a chemical
by-product resulting from the manufacture of Sarin (GB), a
nerve gas that was produced by the Army in the 1950s. A chemical
by-product is a chemical that is formed while making another
substance. Sarin was produced and stored only in the Rocky
Mountain Arsenal outside of Denver, Colorado. Production of
Sarin in the United States was discontinued in 1957.
Diisopropyl methylphosphonate is not
known to occur naturally in the environment. It is not likely
to be produced in the United States in the future because
of the signing of a chemical treaty that bans the use, production,
and stockpiling of poison gases.
Diisopropyl methylphosphonate is a colorless
liquid. Other names for it are DIMP, diisopropyl methane-phosphonate,
phosphonic acid, and methyl-bis-(1-methylethyl)ester.
What happens to diisopropyl methylphosphonate when it enters the environment?
- Most diisopropyl methylphosphonate enters the groundwater
or surface water.
- Most will not enter the air since it does not easily evaporate.
- It does not easily break down in the environment.
- It can stay in water and soil for years.
- Diisopropyl methylphosphonate can enter the soil through
the flow of irrigation water.
- Plants can store diisopropyl methylphosphonate.
- It may enter the food chain when animals eat the plants
How might I be exposed to diisopropyl methylphosphonate?
- Most people would not be exposed to diisopropyl methylphosphonate.
- Living near the site (the Rocky Mountain Arsenal) where
Sarin was produced and stored.
- Drinking contaminated water.
- Eating vegetables irrigated by water contaminated with
How can diisopropyl methylphosphonate affect my health?
Little is known about the effects of
diisopropyl methylphosphonate on people's health. Skin rashes
were seen in some people who handled dead animals near a pond
containing diisopropyl methylphosphonate and other chemicals,
but it is not known whether diisopropyl methylphosphonate
or another chemical caused the effects.
Animal studies have not shown liver or
kidneys problems, infertility, or birth defects after the
animals ate or drank diisopropyl methylphosphonate. Some effects
on the blood and nervous system have been seen in animals
who ate or drank diisopropyl methylphosphonate at high levels.
How likely is diisopropyl methylphosphonate to cause cancer?
The EPA has concluded that diisopropyl
methylphosphonate is not classifiable as to its carcinogenicity
No carcinogenicity studies on diisopropyl
methylphosphonate are available in people or animals.
Is there a medical test to show whether I've been exposed to diisopropyl methylphosphonate?
Once inside the body, diisopropyl methylphosphonate
is rapidly converted to isopropyl methylphosphonic acid (IMPA),
which is rapidly cleared from the blood. Tests can measure
IMPA in the blood or urine. However, these tests are useful
only for recent exposure because IMPA leaves the body rapidly.
Has the federal government made recommendations to protect human health?
The EPA advises that adults should not
drink water containing more than 0.6 milligrams of diisopropyl
methylphosphonate per liter (0.6 mg/L) of water for a lifetime.
They also advise that children should not drink water containing
more than 8 mg/L of diisopropyl methylphosphonate for a 1-day
or longer period.
Carcinogenicity: Ability to cause cancer.
CAS: Chemical Abstracts Service.
Milligram (mg): One thousandth of a gram.
Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease
Registry (ATSDR). 1998. Toxicological Profile for diisopropyl methylphosphonate. Atlanta, GA:
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health
Where can I get more information?
If you have questions or concerns, please contact your community or state health or environmental quality department or:
For more information, contact:
Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry
Office of Innovation and Analytics, Toxicology Section
4770 Buford Highway
Chamblee, GA 30341-3717
Phone: 1-800-CDC-INFO 888-232-6348 (TTY)
Email: Contact CDC-INFO
ATSDR can also tell you the location of occupational and environmental health clinics. These clinics specialize in recognizing, evaluating, and treating illnesses resulting from exposure to hazardous substances.