EDB is used in the manufacture of leaded petrol, it is used as a fumigant in soil, grains, fruits, and vegetables. It is used in the treatment of logs for pests and as a preparation for dyes and waxes. It is also used in the production of some plastics and latex, and as a chemical intermediate.
Substance name: 1,2-dibromoethane
CASR number: 106-93-4
Molecular formula: C2H4Br2
Synonyms: EDB, Ethylene dibromide, dibromoethane, ethylene bromide, glycol dibromide, sym-dibromide, dibromoethylene
2-dibromoethane (EDB) is a colourless to brown, heavy, volatile liquid, with a mild sweet odour.
Melting Point: 9.8°C
Boiling Point: 131-132°C
Vapour Density: 6.5
Flashpoint: NA (it is not flammable)
1,2-dibromoethane (EDB) is slightly soluble in water and is chemically stable.
The National Pollutant Inventory (NPI) holds data for all sources of 1,2-dibromoethane emissions in Australia.
1,2-dibromoethane can effect the brain, damage skin, damage sperm in men, and cause death at very high exposures. Breathing EDB can irritate the lungs causing coughing or shortness of breath. Breathing higher levels of EDB can cause a build up of fluids in the lungs (pulmonary oedema). High exposures can cause dizziness, drowsiness, headache, vomiting and unconsciousness. The International Agency for Research on Cancer classifies EDB as a 'probable human carcinogen'. Worksafe Australia categorises EDB as a 'Probable human carcinogen'. Other long-term effects of exposure to EDB are damage to the liver and kidneys and bronchitis.
Entering the body
1,2-dibromoethane will enter the body if we breathe in contaminated air, or drink contaminated water. EDB can also pass through your skin.
Workers in the industries that use or produce EDB are at risk of exposure. Consumers can be exposed to EDB by exposure to leaded fuels, or by exposure to air from production and processing facilities using EDB. The most significant route of exposure to EDB for most members of the general public is through drinking contaminated water (especially bore water).
Workplace exposure standards
Safe Work Australia sets the workplace exposure standards for airborne contaminants. There are no workplace exposure standards for 1,2-dibromoethane.
Drinking water guidelines
The Australian Drinking Water Guidelines include the following guidelines for acceptable water quality:
- Maximum of 0.003 milligrams per litre of water for health purposes
EDB has moderate short-term toxicity to aquatic life. EDB is not expected to concentrate in fish. EDB is a severe skin irritant that can cause blistering in humans and animals, very high doses through inhalation, ingestion, or skin absorption may cause death.
Entering the environment
Industrial emissions of EDB can produce elevated, but still low level concentrations in the atmosphere around the source. Motor vehicles may also produce elevated levels of EDB in areas of higher traffic. Spills or agricultural applications to the ground may lead to EDB leaching into the groundwater. In the groundwater EDB may contaminate bores or other water supplies.
Where it ends up
1,2-dibromoethane is a persistent pollutant in the atmosphere that can be transported long distances. When released to water EDB will evaporate into the air. Some types of microbes can degrade EDB. It does not tend to accumulate in aquatic life. When spilled or applied to land EDB may leach into the groundwater. EDBs persistence in the ground will vary from soil to soil, in some it may last a few weeks, in others it has been recorded to last as long as 19 years.
No national guidelines.
Refineries making leaded petrol, timber treatment facilities, plastics manufacturing facilities may emit to air, land and water.
Diffuse sources, and industry sources included in diffuse emissions data
Fumigation locations for agricultural products may emit to air, land and water.
EDB occurs naturally in small amounts in the ocean, where algae and kelp (probably) form it.
Motor vehicle emissions to air.
Leaded petrol contains EDB. Some treated products may contain some residual EDB (e.g. treated logs and wood). Water may be contaminated (especially bore water) with EDB.
Sources used in preparing this information
- Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (1997), ToxFAQS, 1,2-dibromoethane (accessed, March, 1999)
- Australian and New Zealand Environment and Conservation Council (ANZECC) (1992), Australian Water Quality Guidelines for Fresh and Marine Waters.
- CalEPA Air Resources Board Toxic Air Contaminant Summary Ethylene dibromide (accessed, March, 1999)
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- Cornell University, Planning Design and Construction, MSDS, Ethylene Bromide, Tech (accessed, March, 1999)
- Environmental Chemicals Data and Information Network (ECDIN) (date of update not given) Ethane, 1,2-dibromo- (accessed, March, 1999)
- Environmental Defense Fund (1998), 1,2-dibromoethane: The Chemical Scorecard: (accessed, March, 1999)
- Meagher, D (1991), The Macmillan Dictionary of The Australian Environment, Macmillan Education Australia Pty Ltd.
- National Environment Protection Council (1998), National Environment Protection Measure for the National Pollutant Inventory. (accessed, March, 1999)
- New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services (1995), Hazardous Substance Fact Sheet, Ethylene Dibromide, PO Box 368 , Trenton , NJ
- New Jersey Department of Health, Right to Know Program (1986), TRIFacts, Ethylene dibromide (accessed, March, 1999)
- NTP Chemical Repository, Radian Corporation, ETHYLENE DIBROMIDE (AUGUST 29, 1991) (accessed, March, 1999)
- Richardson , M (1992), Dictionary of Substances and their Effects, Royal Society of Chemistry, Clays Ltd, England.
- Sittig, M (1991), Handbook of Toxic and Hazardous Chemicals and Carcinogens, 3rd edition, Noyes Publications, USA.
- Technical Advisory Panel (1999), Final Report to the National Environment Protection Council.
- US Department of Health and Human Services (1990), NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards, Publication No. 90-117.
- US Environmental Protection Agency and the Office of Air Quality Planning and Standards (May, 1998), Unified Air Toxics Website, Ethylene Dibromide (accessed, March, 1999)
- US Environmental Protection Agency and the Office of Ground Water and Drinking Water (January, 1998), Drinking Water and Health Consumer Factsheet on: Ethylene Dibromide (accessed, March, 1999)
- Worksafe Australia (1996), Hazardous Substance Ethylene dibromide (accessed, March, 1999)
- Safe Work Australia, Workplace exposure standards for airborne contaminants, accessed June 2021.
- National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), Australian Drinking Water Guidelines (2011) - Updated October 2017, accessed May 2018