Diethylnitrosamine (and related nitrosamines)

(N-nitrosodiethylamine; N-ethyl-N-nitrosoethananime)

CAS 55-18-5





Physical Properties

Yellow liquid

bp 177 °C

Soluble in water



Not available


Vapor Pressure

1.7 mmHg at 20 °C


Flash Point

61 °C


Autoignition Temperature

Not available


Toxicity Data

LD50 oral (rat)

280 mg/kg

Major Hazards

Probable human carcinogen (OSHA "select carcinogen"); other nitrosamines should also be regarded as carcinogenic.


The acute toxicity of diethylnitrosamine is classified as moderate. Other nitrosamines of higher molecular weight are somewhat less toxic. Harmful exposure to nitrosamines can occur by inhalation and ingestion and may cause nausea, vomiting, and fever. This substance does not have adequate warning properties.

Chronic exposure to nitrosamines can cause severe liver damage. Diethylnitrosamine is listed in IARC Group 2A ("probable human carcinogen") and is classified as an OSHA "select carcinogen." Nitrosamines are suspected of causing cancers of the lung, nasal sinuses, brain, esophagus, stomach, liver, bladder, and kidney. Diethylnitrosamine is mutagenic and teratogenic.

Flammability and Explosibility

Volatilization during combustion produces hazardous vapors. Combustion products contain nitrogen oxides.

Reactivity and Incompatibility

Diethylnitrosamine is decomposed by strong acids, liberating nitrous acid. Nitrosamines are incompatible with strong oxidizing agents.

Storage and Handling

Because of its carcinogenicity, diethylnitrosamine should be handled using the "basic prudent practices" of Chapter 5.C, supplemented by the additional precautions for work with compounds of high chronic toxicity (Chapter 5.D). In particular, work with diethylni-

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