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Ethyl Formate

General Description

  • Synonyms: Ethyl ester of formic acid, Ethyl methanoate
  • OSHA IMIS Code Number: 1155
  • Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS) Registry Number: 109-94-4
  • NIOSH Registry of Toxic Effects of Chemical Substances (RTECS) Identification Number: LQ8400000
  • Department of Transportation Regulation Number (49 CFR 172.101) and Guide: 1190 129
  • NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards, Ethyl formate: chemical description, physical properties, potentially hazardous incompatibilities, and more

Exposure Limits

  • OSHA Permissible Exposure Limit (PEL):
  • American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) Threshold Limit Value (TLV): 100 ppm, 303 mg/m3 TWA
  • National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Recommended Exposure Limit (REL): 100 ppm, 300 mg/m3 TWA

Health Factors

  • NIOSH Immediately Dangerous To Life or Health Concentration (IDLH): 1,500 ppm
  • Potential Symptoms: Irritation of eyes, upper respiratory system; burning sensation, cough, sore throat, shortness of breath; headache; drowsiness; eye redness, pain; skin redness, dryness, cracking, burning sensation; in animals: narcosis
  • Health Effects: Irritation-Eye, Nose, Throat, Skin---Mild (HE16); Narcosis (HE8); Explosive, Flammable (HE18)
  • Affected Organs: Eyes, respiratory system, CNS
  • Notes:
    1. Vapor/air mixtures may be explosive.
    2. Ethyl formate is generally recognized as safe by the FDA as a direct food substance (21 CFR 184.1295).
    3. Ethyl formate is hydrolyzed to ethanol and formic acid, the latter being the toxic principal for the use of ethyl formate as a pesticide.
    4. The pesticide tolerance for ethyl formate (used to control the flour beetle, Indian meal moth, and raisin moth) was revoked by the EPA in 1999 (removal of 40 CFR 180.520). Interest in ethyl formate as a pesticide, however, continues outside the U.S.
  • Literature Basis:
    • NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards: Ethyl formate.
    • International Chemical Safety Cards (WHO/IPCS/ILO): Ethyl formate.
    • EPA: Federal Register: Dalapon, Fluchloralin, et al.; Various Tolerance Revocations.
    • Haritos, V.S. and Dojchinov, G.: Cytochrome c oxidase inhibition in the rice weevil Sitophilus oryzae (L.) by formate, the toxic metabolite of volatile alkyl formates. Comp. Biochem. Physiol. C. Toxicol. Pharmacol. 136(2): 135-143, 2003.
    • Keenes, M., et al.: Disinfestation of food processing equipment. Presented at the 12th Annual International Research Conference on Methyl Bromide Alternatives and Emissions Reduction, San Diego, CA, 30 October - 3 November, 2005.
    • Pohanish, R.P. (editor): Ethyl Formate. In, Sittig's Handbook of Toxic and Hazardous Chemicals and Carcinogens, Fourth Ed., Vol. 1. Norwich, NY: Noyes Publications, William Andrew Publishing, 2002, pp. 1106-1108.
  • Date Last Revised: 11/06/2006

Monitoring Methods used by OSHA

Primary Laboratory Sampling/Analytical Method (SLC1):
  • Charcoal Tube (100/50 mg sections, 20/40 mesh)
  • analytical solvent: Carbon Disulfide
  • maximum volume: 10 Liters
  • maximum flow rate: 0.2 L/min
  • current analytical method: Gas Chromatography; GC/FID
  • method reference: NIOSH Analytical Method (NIOSH 1452 (PDF))
  • method classification: Partially Validated

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