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Ethylene oxide information

Ethylene oxide
Preferred IUPAC name
Systematic IUPAC name
Other names
Ethylene oxide
Dimethylene oxide
CAS Number
  • 75-21-8 checkY
3D model (JSmol)
  • Interactive image
Abbreviations EO, EtO
Beilstein Reference
  • CHEBI:27561 checkY
  • ChEMBL1743219
  • 6114 checkY
ECHA InfoCard 100.000.773 Edit this at Wikidata
EC Number
  • 200-849-9
Gmelin Reference
  • D03474 checkY
MeSH Ethylene+Oxide
PubChem CID
  • 6354
RTECS number
  • KX2450000
  • JJH7GNN18P checkY
UN number 1040
CompTox Dashboard (EPA)
  • DTXSID0020600 Edit this at Wikidata
  • InChI=1S/C2H4O/c1-2-3-1/h1-2H2 checkY
  • InChI=1/C2H4O/c1-2-3-1/h1-2H2
  • O1CC1
Chemical formula
Molar mass 44.052 g·mol−1[2]
Appearance Colorless gas
Odor Like diethyl ether[3]
Density 0.8821 g·cm−3[2]
Melting point −112.46 °C (−170.43 °F; 160.69 K)[2]
Boiling point 10.4 °C (50.7 °F; 283.5 K)[2]
Solubility in water
Vapor pressure 1.46 atm (20 °C)[4]
Magnetic susceptibility (χ)
−30.5·10−6 cm3/mol[5]
Refractive index (nD)
1.3597 (589 nm)[2]
Dipole moment
1.94 D[6]
Heat capacity (C)
47.9 J·mol−1·K−1[7]
Std molar
entropy (S298)
242.5 J·mol−1·K−1[7]
Std enthalpy of
formation fH298)
−52.6 kJ·mol−1[7]
Gibbs free energy fG)
−13.0 kJ·mol−1[7]
Occupational safety and health (OHS/OSH):
Main hazards
Extremely flammable
GHS labelling:
GHS02: FlammableGHS04: Compressed GasGHS06: ToxicGHS08: Health hazard
Hazard statements
H220, H230, H280, H301, H314, H331, H335, H336, H340, H350, H360FD, H372
Precautionary statements
P202, P210, P260, P280, P301+P310+P330, P303+P361+P353, P305+P351+P338+P310, P410+P403[8]
NFPA 704 (fire diamond)
NFPA 704 four-colored diamondHealth 3: Short exposure could cause serious temporary or residual injury. E.g. chlorine gasFlammability 4: Will rapidly or completely vaporize at normal atmospheric pressure and temperature, or is readily dispersed in air and will burn readily. Flash point below 23 °C (73 °F). E.g. propaneInstability 3: Capable of detonation or explosive decomposition but requires a strong initiating source, must be heated under confinement before initiation, reacts explosively with water, or will detonate if severely shocked. E.g. hydrogen peroxideSpecial hazards (white): no code
Flash point −20 °C (−4 °F; 253 K)[6]
429 °C (804 °F; 702 K)[6]
Explosive limits 3 to 100%
Lethal dose or concentration (LD, LC):
LC50 (median concentration)
836 ppm (mouse, 4 hr)
4000 ppm (rat, 4 hr)
800 ppm (rat, 4 hr)
819 ppm (guinea pig, 4 hr)
1460 ppm (rat, 4 hr)
835 ppm (mouse, 4 hr)
960 ppm (dog, 4 hr)[9]
NIOSH (US health exposure limits):
PEL (Permissible)
TWA 1 ppm 5 ppm [15-minute excursion][4]
REL (Recommended)
Ca TWA <0.1 ppm (0.18 mg/m3) C 5 ppm (9 mg/m3) [10-min/day][4]
IDLH (Immediate danger)
Ca [800 ppm][4]
Safety data sheet (SDS) ICSC 0155
Related compounds
Related heterocycles
Except where otherwise noted, data are given for materials in their standard state (at 25 °C [77 °F], 100 kPa).
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Infobox references

Ethylene oxide is an organic compound with the formula C2H4O. It is a cyclic ether and the simplest epoxide: a three-membered ring consisting of one oxygen atom and two carbon atoms. Ethylene oxide is a colorless and flammable gas with a faintly sweet odor. Because it is a strained ring, ethylene oxide easily participates in a number of addition reactions that result in ring-opening. Ethylene oxide is isomeric with acetaldehyde and with vinyl alcohol. Ethylene oxide is industrially produced by oxidation of ethylene in the presence of a silver catalyst.

The reactivity that is responsible for many of ethylene oxide's hazards also makes it useful. Although too dangerous for direct household use and generally unfamiliar to consumers, ethylene oxide is used for making many consumer products as well as non-consumer chemicals and intermediates. These products include detergents, thickeners, solvents, plastics, and various organic chemicals such as ethylene glycol, ethanolamines, simple and complex glycols, polyglycol ethers, and other compounds. Although it is a vital raw material with diverse applications, including the manufacture of products like polysorbate 20 and polyethylene glycol (PEG) that are often more effective and less toxic than alternative materials, ethylene oxide itself is a very hazardous substance. At room temperature it is a very flammable, carcinogenic, mutagenic, irritating; and anaesthetic gas.[10]

Ethylene oxide is a surface disinfectant that is widely used in hospitals and the medical equipment industry to replace steam in the sterilization of heat-sensitive tools and equipment, such as disposable plastic syringes.[11] It is so flammable and extremely explosive that it is used as a main component of thermobaric weapons;[12][13] therefore, it is commonly handled and shipped as a refrigerated liquid to control its hazardous nature.[10][14]

  1. ^ International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (2014). Nomenclature of Organic Chemistry: IUPAC Recommendations and Preferred Names 2013. The Royal Society of Chemistry. p. 714. doi:10.1039/9781849733069. ISBN 978-0-85404-182-4.
  2. ^ a b c d e Haynes, p. 3.430
  3. ^ Ethylene oxide, odor
  4. ^ a b c d NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards. "#0275". National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).
  5. ^ Haynes, p. 3.576
  6. ^ a b c Haynes, p. 15.20
  7. ^ a b c d Haynes, p. 5.22
  8. ^ "Ethylene oxide 387614". Sigma-Aldrich. Archived from the original on 5 December 2020. Retrieved 1 September 2020. Alt URL
  9. ^ "Ethylene oxide". Immediately Dangerous to Life or Health Concentrations (IDLH). National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).
  10. ^ a b Rebsdat, Siegfried and Mayer, Dieter (2005) "Ethylene Oxide" in Ullmann's Encyclopedia of Industrial Chemistry. Wiley-VCH, Weinheim. doi:10.1002/14356007.a10_117.
  11. ^ McKetta, John J.; Cunningham, William A. (1984). Encyclopedia of Chemical Processing and Design. Vol. 20. CRC Press. p. 309. ISBN 0-8247-2470-4.
  12. ^ Cite error: The named reference e1 was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  13. ^ Cite error: The named reference e2 was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  14. ^ Ethylene Oxide Sterilization: Are ETO Treated Spices Safe?, SuperFoodly, 10 April 2017

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