Technology Transfer Network - Air Toxics Web Site
Hazard Summary-Created in April 1992; Revised in January 2000
Ethyleneimine has many uses, including in polymerization products and
in adhesives and binders. Acute (short-term) inhalation exposure
to ethyleneimine causes severe respiratory tract irritation and inflammation
in humans, but symptoms may be delayed for several hours. Some symptoms
of acute inhalation exposure in humans include tearing and burning of
the eyes, sore throat, nasal secretion, bronchitis, shortness of breath,
and edema of the lungs. Ethyleneimine is a severe blistering agent,
causing third degree chemical burns of the skin. It is also corrosive
to eye tissue and may cause permanent corneal opacity and conjunctival
scarring. At low levels, chronic (long-term) inhalation exposure
has been reported to result in effects on the blood in humans. EPA
has not classified ethyleneimine for carcinogenicity.
- Ethyleneimine is used in polymerization products; as a monomer for polyethyleneimine; as a comonomer for polymers (e.g., with ethylenediamine); and in paper and textile chemicals, adhesives, binders, petroleum refining chemicals, fuels and lubricants, coating resins, varnishes, lacquers, agricultural chemicals, cosmetics, ion exchange resins, photographic chemicals, and surfactants. (1,2,7,8)
Sources and Potential Exposure
Assessing Personal Exposure
- No information was located regarding the measurement of personal exposure to ethyleneimine.
Health Hazard InformationAcute Effects:
- Acute inhalation exposure to ethyleneimine causes respiratory tract irritation and inflammation in humans, but symptoms may be delayed for several hours. Some symptoms of acute inhalation exposure in humans include tearing and burning of the eyes, sore throat, nausea, vomiting, coughing, headache, dizziness, nasal secretion, laryngeal edema, pronounced changes of the trachea and bronchi, bronchitis, shortness of breath, overwhelming edema of the lungs, and secondary bronchial pneumonia. (1-2)
- Ethyleneimine is a severe blistering agent, causing third degree chemical burns of the skin. It is also corrosive to eye tissue and may cause permanent corneal opacity and conjunctival scarring in humans. (1-2)
- Renal damage and hematological effects have also been observed following acute inhalation exposure in humans. (1-2)
- Ethyleneimine has a corrosive effect on mucous membranes and acute oral exposure may cause scarring of the esophagus in humans. (5)
- Acute animal tests in rats, mice, and guinea pigs, have demonstrated ethyleneimine to have extreme acute toxicity by inhalation, oral, or dermal exposure. (4)
- At low levels, chronic inhalation exposure has been reported to result in hematological effects in humans and in rats. (1)
- EPA has not established a Reference Concentration (RfC) or a Reference Dose (RfD) for ethyleneimine. (3)
- No information is available on the reproductive or developmental effects of ethyleneimine in humans or animals.
- No information is available on the carcinogenic effects of ethyleneimine in humans.
- Hepatomas and pulmonary tumors have been observed in mice exposed via gavage. Lymphomas, hepatomas, and pulmonary tumors were reported in mice exposed by subcutaneous (s.c.) injections. Sarcomas were reported at the injection site in rats exposed by s.c. injection. (1,5,6,7)
- EPA has not classified ethyleneimine for carcinogenicity. (3)
- The chemical formula for ethyleneimine is C2H5N, and its molecular weight is 43.07 g/mol. (7)
- Ethyleneimine occurs as a colorless, flammable, mobile liquid that is miscible with water. (1,5,7,8)
- Ethyleneimine has an intense ammoniacal odor, with an odor threshold of 1.5 parts per million (ppm). (1,5,7-9)
- The vapor pressure for ethyleneimine is 160 mm Hg at 20 °C. (1,5,7)
- A synonym for ethylenemimine is aziridine. (5)
To convert concentrations in air (at 25 °C) from ppm to mg/m3: mg/m3 = (ppm) × (molecular weight of the compound)/(24.45). For ethyleneimine: 1 ppm = 1.76 mg/m3.
Health Data from Inhalation Exposure
LC50 (Lethal Concentration50)--A calculated concentration of a chemical in air to which exposure for a specific length of time is expected to cause death in 50% of a defined experimental animal population.
NIOSH IDLH--National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health immediately dangerous to life and health; NIOSH concentration representing the maximum level of a pollutant from which an individual could escape within 30 minutes without escape-impairing symptoms or irreversible health effects.
The health and regulatory values cited in this factsheet were obtained
in December 1999.
a Health numbers are toxicological numbers from animal testing or risk assessment values developed by EPA.
b Regulatory numbers are values that have been incorporated in Government regulations, while advisory numbers are nonregulatory values provided by the Government or other groups as advice. NIOSH and ACGIH numbers are advisory.
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Hazardous Substances Data Bank (HSDB, online database). National Toxicology Information Program, National Library of Medicine, Bethesda, MD. 1993.
- M. Sittig. Handbook of Toxic and Hazardous Chemicals and Carcinogens. 2nd ed. Noyes Publications, Park Ridge, NJ. 1985.
- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) on Ethyleneimine. National Center for Environmental Assessment, Office of Research and Development, Washington, DC. 1999.
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Registry of Toxic Effects of Chemical Substances (RTECS, online database). National Toxicology Information Program, National Library of Medicine, Bethesda, MD. 1993.
- International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). IARC Monographs on the Evaluation of the Carcinogenic Risk of Chemicals to Man: Some Aziridines, N-, S- & O-Mustards and Selenium. Volume 9. World Health Organization, Lyon. 1975.
- International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). IARC Monographs on the Evaluation of the Carcinogenic Risk of Chemicals to Humans: Overall Evaluations of Carcinogenicity: An Updating of IARC Monographs Volumes 1 to 42. Supplement 7. World Health Organization, Lyon. 1987.
- The Merck Index. An Encyclopedia of Chemicals, Drugs, and Biologicals. 11th ed. Ed. S. Budavari. Merck and Co. Inc., Rahway, NJ. 1989.
- G.D. Clayton and F.E. Clayton, Eds. Patty's Industrial Hygiene and Toxicology. Volume IIA. 3rd revised ed. John Wiley & Sons, New York. 1981.
- J.E. Amoore and E. Hautala. Odor as an aid to chemical safety: Odor thresholds compared with threshold limit values and volatilities for 214 industrial chemicals in air and water dilution. Journal of Applied Toxicology, 3(6):272-290. 1983.
- American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH). 1999 TLVs and BEIs. Threshold Limit Values for Chemical Substances and Physical Agents. Biological Exposure Indices. Cincinnati, OH. 1999.
- National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Cincinnati, OH. 1997.