Fact sheet: 1,2-dichloroethene (trans)

From: Public Services and Procurement Canada

Discover a list of a contaminant's important chemical properties, how it will react in the environment, main sources of contamination related, and a brief overview of health and safety issues.

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General information

CAS number


Molecular formula


Formula weight

96.6 g/mol


Chlorinated aliphatic hydrocarbons (CAH)

Properties (at room temperature where applicable)

Compound properties list
Melting/boiling point -50 °C / 47 °CLiquid
Relative density1.25 g/cm3Sinks in water
Vapour pressure300 mm HgVery volatile
Vapour density3.4Denser than air
Solubility in water6,000 mg/LModerately soluble
Henry's law constant8 x 10-3 atm·m3/molRapid volatilization when dissolved
log Koc (Depending on soil or sediment characteristics)1.6Moderate adsorption to organic matter

Environmental behaviour

At 20 0C, trans-1,2-dichloroethene is a liquid denser than water and very volatile. Characterized by moderate solubility, it will volatilize rapidly once dissolved and adsorbs moderately to organic matter. During a spill, the majority of this compound will evaporate, but may also percolate into the soil or migrate into a waterway. Once it encounters water (surface or subsurface), the trans-1,2-dichloroethene will dissolve or sink until it reaches an impermeable surface. Liquid trans-1,2-dichloroethene that accumulates in a saturated zone will gradually dissolve before volatilizing. The adsorbed trans-1,2-dichloroethene in the vadose and saturated zones will rapidly disappear, liberating contamination in either the gaseous or dissolved state. The resulting plumes (gaseous or dissolved) will be relatively large in size.

Health and safety

Trans-l,2-Dichloroethene should be handled with care as it is flammable, corrosive and toxic.

Principal resources

1,2-Dichloroethene is commercially produced by the direct chlorination of acetylene or by the dehydrochlorination of l,l,2-trichloroethane. Such commercial preparations are mixtures of cis- and trans-l,2-dichloroethene. The trans isomer is preferred in most industrial applications. 1,2-Dichloroethene is used primarily as a chemical intermediate in the synthesis of chlorinated solvents and compounds. It has also been used as a solvent for waxes, resins, acetyl cellulose, perfumes, dyes, lacquers, thermoplastics, fats and phenols. It is used in the extraction of rubber, as a refrigerant, and in the manufacture of pharmaceuticals. It has also been used as a low-temperature extraction solvent for organic materials such as decaffeinated coffee.

1,2-Dichloroethene is released into the environment from production facilities that make or use this chemical, from landfills and hazardous waste sites containing this chemical, from chemical spills, the burning of objects made of vinyl, and from the breakdown of other chlorinated chemicals.


Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), 1996. Toxicological Profile for l,2-dichloroethene. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Georgia, USA. (Viewed December 2013)

Montgomery, John H. 2007. Groundwater Chemicals, Desk Reference, Fourth Edition, CRC Press, Taylor and Francis Group, Florida, USA.