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Ethylene Dibromide

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Ethylene Dibromide is a naturally occurring (small amounts found in oceans) colorless liquid used in certain reactions. It used to be a common Pesticide but its use in this context was banned in 1984 by the US EPA. It is used sparingly today as a fumigant to kill termites and cockroaches.


Just the facts

Physical Information

Name: Ethylene Dibromide

Synonyms: 1,2-dibromoethane, glycoldibromide, and bromofume

Use: see #uses

Source: natural and synthetic

Recommended daily intake: none

Absorption: dermal, inhalation, ingestion

Sensitive individuals: workers

Toxicity/symptoms: highly toxic

Regulatory facts: not registered for use in the US

Chemical Structure


Chemical Description

Ethylene dibromide is a heavy colorless liquid with a mild sweet odor, similar to Chloroform and is slightly soluble in water (EPA, 2000 and #EPA Factsheet).

chemical formula: C2H4Br2
molecular weight: 187.88 g/mol
vapor pressure: 11.0 mm Hg at 25 °C


Ethylene Dibromide has been used in the past for several purposes (#EPA, 2000):

  • as an additive to leaded gasoline; however, since leaded gasoline is now banned, it is no longer used for this purpose.
  • as a fumigant to protect against insects, pests, and nematodes in citrus, vegetable, and grain crops, and as a fumigant for turf, particularly on golf courses. In 1984, EPA banned its use as a soil and grain fumigant.
  • currently used in the treatment of felled logs for bark beetles and termites, and control of wax moths in beehives.
  • used as an intermediate for dyes, resins, waxes, and gums.

Health Effects

Ethylene Dibromide is a sever skin irritant in liquid form and inhaling or ingesting ethylene dibromide can cause death (#EPA, 2000).
Inhalation and Ingestion Symptoms
* burning sensation
* cough
* laboured breathing
* shortness of breath
* unconsciousness and death

Dermal Symptoms
* redness
* pain
* blisters

Environmental Effects

Ethylene Dibromide is most toxic as a vapor, therefore, unless the birds are in a recently sprayed area they are not likely to be affected (#EXTOXNET). It is slightly toxic to fish.


It is not registered for us use in the US. It was canceled in 1983, after finding elevated levels in groundwater (#EXTOXNET).



Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. "Medical Management Guidelines for Ethylene Dibromide". Accessed 6-20-07.

Environmental Protection Agency. " Ethylene Dibromide (Dibromoethane)". January, 2000. Accessed 6-20-07.

Environmental Protection Agency. " Consumer Factsheet on: ETHYLENE DIBROMIDE". Accessed 6-20-07.

Extension Toxicology Network. Pesticide Information Profile - Ethylene Dibromide. June, 1996. Accessed 6-20-07.

Pesticide Action Network. Ethylene Dibromide Information. Accessed 6-20-07.

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