Fact Sheet: 1,2-Dichloroethane

1,2-Dichloroethane FACT SHEET

Brief Overview:
Contaminant: 1,2-Dichloroethane
Category: Organic
Source: Industrial cleaning solvent
Effect: Affects nervous system, lungs, kidney, liver.  Cancer.
Followup: Treat and retest quarterly
Treatment: Granular activated charcoal

1,2-Dichloroethane (1,2-DCE) is a colorless, oily, organic liquid with a sweet, chloroform-like odor. The greatest use of 1,2-dichloroethane is in making chemicals involved in plastics, rubber and synthetic textile fibers. Other uses include: as a solvent for resins and fats, photography, photocopying, cosmetics, drugs; and as a fumigant for grains and orchards.
Production of 1,2-dichloroethane was 18 billion lbs. in 1993. It is released in waste water, spills, and/or improper disposal primarily from its use as a cleaning solvent, in making other organics, and in pesticides.

From 1987 to 1993, according to the Toxics Release Inventory, releases to water and land totalled over 455,000 lbs. These releases were primarily from facilities which make industrial organic chemicals, alkalis and chlorine. The largest releases occurred in New Jersey and Louisiana.

What happens to 1,2-DCE when it is released to the environment? While releases to water or soil will evaporate quickly, 1,2-dichloroethane will also leach into groundwater rapidly where it is likely to persist for a very long time. There is little degradation by microbes. 1-2-dichloroethane is not expected to accumulate in fish.

Short-term: EPA has found 1,2-dichloroethane to potentially cause the following health effects when people are exposed to it at levels above the MCL for relatively short periods of time: central nervous system disorders, and adverse lung, kidney, liver, circulatory and gastrointestinal effects.
Long-term: 1,2-Dichloroethane has the potential to cause the following effects from a lifetime exposure at levels above the MCL: cancer.

Treat and retest quarterly

Granular activated charcoal in combination with Packed Tower Aeration.