Diethyl Ether

CAS RN: 60-29-7

Exposure Summary

Diethyl ether's production and use as a solvent, in the manufacture of gun powder, former use in the US as an anesthetic and as a primer for gasoline engines may result in its release to the environment through various waste streams. If released to air, an extrapolated vapor pressure of 538 mm Hg at 25 deg C indicates diethyl ether will exist solely as a vapor in the ambient atmosphere. Vapor-phase diethyl ether will be degraded in the atmosphere by reaction with photochemically-produced hydroxyl radicals and nitrate radicals; half-lives for these reactions in air are estimated to be 1.2 and 5.8 days, respectively. Direct photolysis is not expected to be an important removal process since aliphatic ethers do not absorb light in the environmental spectrum. If released to soil, diethyl ether is expected to have high mobility based upon an estimated Koc of 73. Volatilization from moist soil surfaces is expected to be an important fate process based upon a Henry's Law constant of 1.23X10-3 atm-cu m/mole. Diethyl ether is expected to volatilize from dry soil surfaces based upon its extrapolated vapor pressure. Aqueous screening studies indicate biodegradation is expected to be a slow fate process in both soil and water. If released into water, diethyl ether is not expected to adsorb to suspended solids and sediment in water based upon the estimated Koc. Volatilization from water surfaces is expected to be an important fate process based upon this compound's Henry's Law constant. Estimated volatilization half-lives from a model river and model lake are 3.1 hours and 3.6 days, respectively. BCFs ranging from 0.9 to 9.1 in fish suggest bioconcentration in aquatic organisms is low. Hydrolysis is not expected to be an important environmental fate process since this compound lacks functional groups that hydrolyze under environmental conditions. Occupational exposure to diethyl ether may occur through inhalation and dermal contact with this compound at workplaces where diethyl ether is produced or used. The general population may be exposed to diethyl ether from inhalation of ambient air, and ingestion of contaminated drinking water. (SRC)
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