Fact sheet: Vinyl chloride

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

62.5 g/mol


Chlorinated aliphatic hydrocarbons (CAH)

Properties (at room temperature where applicable)

Compound properties list
Melting/boiling point -154 °C / 13 °CGas
Relative density0.91 g/cm3Floats on water
Vapour pressure2,500 mm HgExtremely volatile
Vapour density2.2Denser than air
Solubility in water1,000 mg/LLow solubility
Henry's law constant1 x 100 atm·m3/molRapid volatilization when dissolved
log Koc (Depending on soil or sediment characteristics)Weak adsorption to organic matter

Environmental behaviour

At 20 0C, vinyl chloride is a gas that is easily liquefied under pressure and is both stored and transported in its liquid form. When liquid, it floats on water and is extremely volatile. Low to moderately soluble, it rapidly volatilizes when dissolved and only binds weakly to organic matter. During a spill of liquefied vinyl chloride, the majority of the product will volatilize but can also enter into the soil or drain into a waterway. Once it encounters water (surface or subsurface), vinyl chloride will primarily volatilize, or dissolve followed volatilization. The adsorbed product resulting from a spill will disappear rapidly in its gaseous state and only a small portion will dissolve. The resulting gaseous and dissolved plumes will be relatively large in size in sols.

Health and safety

Vinyl chloride should be handled with care as it is flammable and toxic.

Principal resources

Vinyl chloride is most often produced commercially in large amounts through the chlorination of ethene to produce 1,2-dichloroethane. The 1,2-dichloroethane is then subjected to thermal cracking which forms the vinyl chloride monomer and hydrogen chloride. Approximately 98% of all vinyl chloride produced is used to manufacture polyvinyl chloride (PVC) materials. PVC is widely used in automotive parts, packaging products, pipes, construction materials, furniture and a variety of other products. Other uses of vinyl chloride, which account for about 2% of total annual production, include the production of 1,1,1-trichloroethane and copolymers with vinyl acetate, vinyl sterate, and vinylidene chloride.

Most of the vinyl chloride that enters the environment comes from vinyl chloride manufacturing or processing plants, when it is released into the air or wastewater. Vinyl chloride can also be formed in the environment when other chlorinated substances, such as trichloroethylene, trichloroethane and tetrachloroethylene, are broken down biologically or abiotically.


Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), 2006. Toxicological Profile for Vinyl Chloride. 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.