LABORATORY CHEMICAL SAFETY SUMMARY: DIETHYL ETHER

Substance

Diethyl ether

(Ethyl ether, ether)

CAS 60-29-7

 

Formula

(CH3CH2)2O

 

Physical Properties

Colorless liquid

bp 35 °C, mp -116 °C

Slightly soluble in water (8 g/100 mL)

 

Odor

Pungent odor detectable at 0.33 ppm

 

Vapor Density

2.6 (air = 1.0)

 

Vapor Pressure

442 mmHg at 20 °C

 

Flash Point

-45 °C

 

Autoignition Temperature

160 °C

 

Toxicity Data

LD50 oral (rat)

1215 mg/kg

 

LC50 inhal (rat)

73,000 ppm (2 h)

 

PEL (OSHA)

400 ppm

 

TLV-TWA (ACGIH)

400 ppm

 

STEL (ACGIH)

500 ppm

Major Hazards

Extremely flammable liquid and vapor; forms explosive peroxides upon storage in contact with air.

Toxicity

The acute toxicity of diethyl ether is low. Inhalation of high concentrations can cause sedation, unconsciousness, and respiratory paralysis. These effects are usually reversible upon cessation of exposure. Diethyl ether is mildly irritating to the eyes and skin, but does not generally cause irreversible damage. Repeated contact can cause dryness and cracking of the skin due to removal of skin oils. The liquid is not readily absorbed through the skin, in part because of its high volatility. Diethyl ether is slightly toxic by ingestion. Diethyl ether is regarded as having adequate warning properties.

There is no evidence for carcinogenicity of diethyl ether, and no reproductive effects have been reported. Chronic exposure to diethyl ether vapor may lead to loss of appetite, exhaustion, drowsiness, dizziness, and other central nervous system effects.

Flammability and Explosibility

Diethyl ether is extremely flammable (NFPA rating = 4) and is one of the most dangerous fire hazards commonly encountered in the laboratory, owing to its volatility and extremely low ignition temperature. Ether vapor may be ignited by hot surfaces such as hot plates



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