LABORATORY CHEMICAL SAFETY SUMMARY: ETHANOL

Substance

Ethanol

(Ethyl alcohol, alcohol, methylcarbinol)

CAS 64-17-5

 

Formula

C2H5OH

 

Physical Properties

Colorless liquid

bp 78 °C, mp -114 °C

Miscible with water

 

Odor

Pleasant alcoholic odor detectable at 49 to 716 ppm (mean = 180 ppm)

Vapor Density

1.6 (air = 1.0)

 

Vapor Pressure

43 mmHg at 20 °C

 

Flash Point

13 °C

 

Autoignition Temperature

363 °C

 

Toxicity Data

LD50 oral (rat)

7060 mg/kg

 

LD50 skin (rabbit)

>20 mL/kg

 

LC50 inhal (rat)

20,000 ppm(10 h)

 

PEL (OSHA)

1000 ppm(1900 mg/m3)

 

TLV-TWA (ACGIH)

1000 ppm(1900 mg/m3)

Major Hazards

Flammable liquid

 

Toxicity

The acute toxicity of ethanol is very low. Ingestion of ethanol can cause temporary nervous system depression with anesthetic effects such as dizziness, headache, confusion, and loss of consciousness; large doses (250 to 500 mL) can be fatal in humans. High concentrations of ethanol vapor are irritating to the eyes and upper respiratory tract. Liquid ethanol does not significantly irritate the skin but is a moderate eye irritant. Exposure to high concentrations of ethanol by inhalation (over 1000 ppm) can cause central nervous system (CNS) effects, including dizziness, headache, and giddiness followed by depression, drowsiness, and fatigue. Ethanol is regarded as a substance with good warning properties.

Tests in some animals indicate that ethanol may have developmental and reproductive toxicity if ingested. There is no evidence that laboratory exposure to ethanol has carcinogenic effects.

To discourage deliberate ingestion, ethanol for laboratory use is often "denatured" by the addition of other chemicals; the toxicity of possible additives must also be considered when evaluating the risk of laboratory exposure to ethanol.



The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement