Fact sheet: 1,2-dichloroethane

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

99 g/mol


Chlorinated aliphatic hydrocarbons (CAH)

Properties (at room temperature where applicable)

Compound properties list
Melting/boiling point -35 °C / 83 °CLiquid
Relative density1.24 g/cm3Sinks in water
Vapour pressure80 mm HgVery volatile
Vapour density3.4Denser than air
Solubility in water8,500 mg/LModerately soluble
Henry's law constant1 x 10-3 atm·m3/molRapid volatilization when dissolved
log Koc (Depending on soil or sediment characteristics)1.3 - 1.8*Moderate adsorption to organic matter

Environmental behaviour

At 20 0C, 1,2-dichloroethane 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, this compound will primarily evaporate but may also enter into the soil or migrate into a waterway. Once it encounters water (surface or subsurface), the 1,2-dichloroethane will dissolve or sink until it reaches an impermeable surface. The liquid 1,2-dichloroethane that accumulates in a saturated zone will gradually dissolve before volatilization occurs. The adsorbed 1,2-dichloroethane 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

1,2-Dichloroethane should be handled with care as it is toxic and flammable.

Principal resources

1,2-Dichloroethane is not found naturally in the environment. Although large amounts of 1,2-dichloroethane are produced industrially, most of it is used to make other chemical products. The most common use of 1,2-dichloroethane is in the manufacture of vinyl chloride, which is almost entirely used to produce polyvinyl chloride (PVC). Smaller amounts of 1,2-dichloroethane are used in the synthesis of vinylidene chloride, 1,1,1-trichloroethane, trichloroethene, tetrachloroethene, acetyl cellulose, aziridines, ethylene diamines, and in chlorinated solvents.

1,2-Dichloroethane is also used as a solvent and was added to leaded gasoline as an antiknock additive. In the past, it was also found in small amounts in products used to clean textiles, remove grease from metal, and break down oils, fats, waxes, resins and rubber. In the household, 1,2-dichloroethane was formerly a component of some cleaning solutions and pesticides, adhesives for wallpaper or carpeting, as well as paint, varnish and finish removers. It was also used as a grain and soil fumigant.


Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR). 2001. Toxicological Profile for 1,2-dichloroethane. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Georgia, USA. (Viewed March 2010).

Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment, 1999. Canadian Water Quality Guidelines for the Protection of Aquatic Life: Chlorinated Ethanes. In: Canadian Environmental Quality Guidelines. Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment, Manitoba, Canada (Viewed March 2010).

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