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Ethylene dibromide

1,2-Dibromoethane is a manufactured chemical. It also occurs naturally in small amounts in the ocean where it is formed, probably by algae and kelp. It is a colorless liquid with a mild, sweet odor. Other names for 1,2-dibromoethane are ethylene dibromide, EDB, and glycol bromide. Trade names include Bromofume and Dowfume.

1,2-Dibromoethane has been used as a pesticide in soil, and on citrus, vegetable, and grain crops. Most of these uses have been stopped by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) since 1984. Another major use was as an additive in leaded gasoline; however, since leaded gasoline is now banned, it is no longer used for this purpose. Uses today include treatment of logs for termites and beetles, control of moths in beehives, and as a preparation for dyes and waxes.

Health effects

Normal exposure to 1,2-dibromoethane is generally much, much lower than levels that can harm you. We don't know the effects on people of breathing high levels, but animal studies with short-term exposures to high levels caused depression and collapse, indicating effects on the brain.

Redness and inflammation, including skin blisters and mouth and stomach ulcers, can occur if large amounts are swallowed. One accidental swallowing caused death in a woman. It is highly unlikely that there would be a risk of death to people from low-level exposure.

Although very little is known about the effects from breathing 1,2-dibromoethane over a long period of time, some male workers had reproductive effects including damage to their sperm. No other long-term effects are known in people.

In rats, death occurred from breathing high levels for a short time. Lower levels caused liver and kidney damage. When rats breathed air or ate food containing 1,2-dibromo-ethane for short or long periods of time, they were less fertile or had abnormal sperm.

Changes in the brain and behavior were also seen in young rats whose male parents had breathed 1,2-dibromoethane, and birth defects were observed in the young of animals that were exposed while pregnant. 1,2-Dibromo-ethane is not known to cause birth defects in people.