Ethanol

CAS RN: 64-17-5

Exposure Summary

Ethanol's production and use as a biofuel or biofuel additive, in alcoholic beverages, as a solvent, in pharmaceuticals, perfumery and organic synthesis may result in its release to the environment through various waste streams. It's use as a pesticide (disinfectant, sanitizer, microbiocide, fungicide, plant regulator) will result in its direct release to the environment. Ethanol has been detected in emissions from animal wastes, plants, insects, forest fires, microbes, and volcanoes as well as from the natural fermentation of starch, sugar and other carbohydrates. Ethanol is a volatile component of many plants. If released to air, a vapor pressure of 59.3 mm Hg at 25 deg C indicates ethanol will exist solely as a vapor in the atmosphere. Vapor-phase ethanol will be degraded in the atmosphere by reaction with photochemically-produced hydroxyl radicals; the half-life for this reaction in air is estimated to be 5 days. Ethanol does not contain chromophores that absorb at wavelengths >290 nm and, therefore, is not expected to be susceptible to direct photolysis by sunlight. If released to soil, ethanol is expected to have very high mobility based upon a log Koc of 0.20. Volatilization from moist soil surfaces is expected based upon a Henry's Law constant of 5.0X10-6 atm-cu m/mole. Ethanol may volatilize from dry soil surfaces based upon its vapor pressure. Utilizing the Japanese MITI test, 89% of the Theoretical BOD was reached in 2 weeks indicating that biodegradation is an important environmental fate process. If released into water, ethanol is not expected to adsorb to suspended solids and sediment based upon the log Koc. Biodegradation of ethanol in water is expected based on degradation half-lives of a few days in aquatic studies. Volatilization from water surfaces is expected based upon this compound's Henry's Law constant. Estimated volatilization half-lives for a model river and model lake are 5 and 39 days, respectively. An estimated BCF of 3 suggests the potential for 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 (pH 5 to 9). Occupational exposure to ethanol may occur through inhalation and dermal contact with this compound at workplaces where ethanol is produced or used. The general population is exposed to ethanol primarily through the consumption of alcoholic beverages containing this product. Monitoring data indicate that the general population may also be exposed to ethanol via inhalation of ambient air or dermal contact with products containing ethanol. (SRC)
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