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CHEMINFO Record Number: 155
CCOHS Chemical Name: Ethanolamine

Aminoethyl alcohol
beta-Aminoethyl alcohol
2-Aminoethyl alcohol
Ethanol, 2-amino-

Chemical Name French: 2-Aminoéthanol
Chemical Name Spanish: 2-Aminoetanol
CAS Registry Number: 141-43-5
Other CAS Registry Number(s): 9007-33-4
UN/NA Number(s): 2491
RTECS Number(s): KJ5775000
EU EINECS/ELINCS Number: 205-483-3
Chemical Family: Aliphatic amino alcohol / amino alkanol / hydroxy alkylamine / amino hydroxy alkane / alkanolamine / ethanolamine / aminoethanol
Molecular Formula: C2-H7-N-O
Structural Formula: HO-CH2-CH2-NH2


Appearance and Odour:
Colourless or pale yellow viscous liquid with a fishy or a mild ammonia-like odour. Absorbs moisture (hygroscopic). Turns yellow on brief exposure to air, light, and/or heat and darkens to brown on prolonged exposure.(4,5,61)

Odour Threshold:
2.6 ppm (6.5 mg/m3) (odour threshold) (11,16); 3-4 ppm (7.5-10 mg/m3) (50% detection) (19); 5 ppm (12.5 mg/m3) (100% recognition) (19); 5.3 ppm (13.3 mg/m3) (irritating) (20)

Warning Properties:
NOT RELIABLE - odour threshold about the same magnitude as TLV.

Ethanolamine is commercially available with a minimum purity of 97%. Water solutions are also available. The main impurities present when ethanolamine is manufactured from ethylene oxide and ammonia are diethanolamine, triethanolamine, ethylene glycol, ethylene oxide, and ammonia.(5,6)

Uses and Occurrences:
Used to remove acidic impurities such as carbon dioxide and hydrogen sulfide from natural gas, syn gas, biogas, and ammonia process gas. Used as an additive or an intermediate in the preparation of nonionic and ionic surfactants, personal care formulations for bleaching and dyeing hair, emulsifying oils, defoamers, antistatic agents, softening agents, ethylenediamine, ethylenimine, agrochemicals, polyurethane, polycarbonates, epoxy resins, polyesters, methyl methacrylates and other various resins and rubbers.(4,5,6)


Colourless or pale yellow viscous liquid with a fishy or a mild ammonia-like odour. COMBUSTIBLE LIQUID AND VAPOUR. Risk of spontaneous combustion due to self-heating on exposure to air. Hazardous decomposition may occur above 200 deg C. Vapour is heavier than air and can accumulate in confined spaces and low areas. Decomposes at high temperatures forming toxic gases, such as nitrogen oxides, hydrogen cyanide, and formaldehyde. Vapours or mists are irritating to eyes and respiratory tract. May cause lung injury--effects may be delayed. Direct contact with liquid or concentrated solutions is CORROSIVE to the eyes and skin. May cause blindness. May cause permanent scarring.


Effects of Short-Term (Acute) Exposure

Ethanolamine can form a vapour at normal temperatures. Undiluted ethanolamine is corrosive and vapours or mists generated from solutions are expected to irritate the eyes, nose, throat, and respiratory tract depending on the concentration and duration of exposure. Symptoms of exposure may include coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, difficult breathing, headache, nausea, vomiting, and chest pain. Prolonged or severe exposure may lead to a potentially fatal accumulation of fluid in the lungs (pulmonary edema). Symptoms of pulmonary edema (chest pain and shortness of breath) can be delayed up to 24 or 48 hours after exposure.

In a case report, a worker was exposed by skin contact and inhalation while handling barrels of ethanolamine for 2 days. He also had exposure to black asphalt paint. Symptoms were a burning sensation in the eyes, headache, vomiting and signs of bronchitis. He was found to have an enlarged liver and biopsy indicated liver damage. Chronic hepatitis was diagnosed about 18 months later.(45) Specific conclusions about the potential liver toxicity of ethanolamine cannot be drawn based on this single case report, which is limited by the lack of exposure information and by the mixed exposure.
In a study, which is not available in English, inhalation of ethanolamine was reported to cause immediate laboured breathing and asthma.(31, unconfirmed) No further details are available for evaluation.

Skin Contact:
Ethanolamine is corrosive to the skin based on its pH and animal information. Solutions can cause moderate to severe irritation depending on the concentration and duration of contact. Corrosive materials can cause redness, pain, inflammation, blistering, ulceration and permanent scarring. No human information was located.
Ethanolamine can be absorbed through the skin, based on information obtained from animal studies and studies using excised human skin. However, significant toxicity by this route of exposure is not expected.

Eye Contact:
Ethanolamine is corrosive to the eyes based on its pH and animal information. Permanent injury, including blindness may result. There is little human information available. A worker who was exposed to airborne ethanolamine and black asphalt paint for 2 days was reported to have a burning sensation in the eyes.(45) No exposure information was provided.

Ethanolamine is corrosive and may cause severe irritation to the lips, tongue, throat and stomach; abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting if ingested. However, it is not considered toxic if ingested based on animal information. There is little human information available. In one case, a worker intentionally ingested 600 mL of a cleaning fluid containing 3.3% ethanolamine (total dose was 300 mg/kg) and other unspecified ingredients of low toxicity. He vomited with choking several times and complained of difficult breathing with wheezing. He was diagnosed with ulceration in the esophagus and stomach and acute respiratory distress syndrome, which caused his death after 4 days.(46) It is difficult to draw specific conclusions about the toxicity of ethanolamine from this report, due to the presence of other ingredients in the product. Ingestion is not a typical route for occupational exposure.

Effects of Long-Term (Chronic) Exposure

There is little human or animal information available. Repeated inhalation exposure to high concentrations of corrosive chemicals like ethanolamine may cause severe bronchitis. In general, long-term skin contact with low concentrations of corrosive materials can cause dry, red, cracked skin (dermatitis). The available evidence does not indicate that ethanolamine is a respiratory sensitizer and is inadequate to conclude that it is a skin sensitizer.

Nervous System:
The only report located contains too few details for evaluation.
A secondary report indicates that workers exposed to low airborne concentrations of ethanolamine had an increase in the frequency of neurological problems (lack or loss of strength). (17, unconfirmed) There are no further details available for evaluation.

Lungs/Respiratory System:
Repeated or prolonged exposure to corrosive chemicals like ethanolamine may cause severe bronchitis with cough, phlegm and/or shortness of breath. A secondary report indicates that workers exposed to low airborne concentrations of ethanolamine had an increase in the frequency of bronchitis.(17, unconfirmed) There are no further details available for evaluation

Respiratory Sensitization:
The evidence available does not suggest that ethanolamine is a respiratory sensitizer. Despite its widespread use there are few cases of respiratory sensitization reported.(73)
One case of occupational asthma is described in a woman with no family history of allergies who was exposed to 8% ethanolamine in heated cleaning fluid for 18 years. A test with a detergent containing ethanolamine in hot water induced an immediate long-lasting asthmatic reaction. Asthmatic symptoms continued after she left her work.(47) In a study of 14 people with asthma, which appeared to be related to exposure to chemicals in the beauty industry, all had a previous history of allergies and all gave positive skin tests with ethanolamine.(48)

In general, long-term skin contact with low concentrations of corrosive materials can cause dry, red, cracked skin (dermatitis).(49)

Skin Sensitization:
There is insufficient evidence available to conclude that ethanolamine is a skin sensitizer. Positive results have been obtained in ethanolamine patch tests in workers who had dry, red irritated skin (eczema) from working with metalworking fluids. Other components of the metalworking fluids, which may damage the skin and increase its permeability, may enhance the sensitizing properties of ethanolamine. Negative results were obtained in an unconfirmed animal test. No conclusions can be drawn from a positive result in a poorly reported animal study that used too few animals.
In a study of dermatology patients with eczema, some of whom (numbers not reported) were metal workers, 4/158 had a positive reaction when patch tested with 2% ethanolamine.(50)
In 2 related studies of dermatitis patients who were exposed occupationally to metalworking fluids containing ethanolamine, 3/53 and 23/199 gave a positive patch test with ethanolamine.(71,72)
A case report describes a 54-year old worker who developed dermatitis 6 weeks after starting work with a cutting oil. Patch testing gave positive results for ethanolamine.(52) It is not know if this person had pre-existing allergies.
In another case report, a metal worker, with pre-existing allergies and a 40-year history of eczema, had his condition worsen when he was exposed to a cutting oil that contained ethanolamine. He reacted positively when patch tested with 2% ethanolamine. The eczema improved, although not entirely cleared, after a synthetic oil without ethanolamine was substituted in his work.(51)
In another case report, a worker with no previous history of allergy developed eczema following exposure to cutting fluid that contained ethanolamine. A patch test with 1% ethanolamine produced a positive reaction. A weak positive reaction was obtained in 1/10 non-exposed volunteers.(53)

In an unconfirmed report, workers exposed by inhalation to low airborne concentrations of ethanolamine had an increase in the frequency of liver problems.(17, unconfirmed) This report provides insufficient details for evaluation


There is inadequate evidence to conclude that ethanolamine is a carcinogen. No specific human or animal information was located. However, ethanolamine is used as an additive for soluble and synthetic metalworking fluids. Several studies have examined the risk of cancer among workers exposed to metalworking fluids. Metalworking fluids are complex mixtures, which contain various additives, some of which are potential carcinogens. The use of ethanolamines (like ethanolamine) and nitrites together as additives in metalworking fluids can lead to the formation of N-nitrosodiethanolamine, which is a possible carcinogen.(54) Human population studies have examined cancer mortality or the incidence of cancer in workers exposed to metalworking fluids containing ethanolamines, with or without sodium nitrite. Small excesses were observed for cancers at various sites, particularly the stomach, esophagus and larynx.(54) A recent review of human studies concluded that workers exposed by skin contact and/or by inhalation to metalworking fluids have elevated risk ratios of stomach and other cancers.(55) Specific conclusions regarding the potential carcinogenicity of exposure to ethanolamine alone cannot be drawn based on these studies.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has not evaluated the carcinogenicity of this chemical.

The American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) has not assigned a carcinogenicity designation to this chemical.

The US National Toxicology Program (NTP) has not listed this chemical in its report on carcinogens.

Teratogenicity and Embryotoxicity:
The available evidence does not indicate that ethanolamine causes developmental toxicity. No human information was located. In well-conducted studies using rats and rabbits exposed dermally or rats exposed orally ethanolamine showed no developmental toxicity even at doses that caused maternal toxicity. Limited studies have shown development effects in the offspring of rats and mice orally exposed to maternally toxic doses.

Reproductive Toxicity:
The available information does not indicate that ethanolamine causes reproductive toxicity. No human and little animal information was located. No conclusions can be drawn from a limited study using dogs and guinea pigs where continuous inhalation exposure to toxic concentrations of ethanolamine resulted in decreased sperm formation.

The available information does not indicate that ethanolamine is a mutagen. No human information was located. Negative results were obtained in an unconfirmed test using live mice and in most tests using cultured mammalian cells, bacteria and yeast.

Toxicologically Synergistic Materials:
In a study using male mice, ingestion of 10-30 mg/kg ethanolamine enhanced the repair of the liver injury caused by intraperitoneal injection of carbon tetrachloride 24 hours earlier.

Potential for Accumulation:
Does not accumulate. Ethanolamine is absorbed following oral, inhalation and dermal exposure. Ethanolamine naturally occurs in mammalian tissues. It has a normal function in lipid metabolism and can be incorporated into cell membranes. Some of the absorbed ethanolamine is excreted in exhaled air (as carbon dioxide) and some is excreted in the urine.(7,31)


Remove source of contamination or move victim to fresh air. If breathing is difficult, trained personnel should administer emergency oxygen. DO NOT allow victim to move about unnecessarily. Symptoms of pulmonary edema can be delayed up to 48 hours after exposure. Quickly transport victim to an emergency care facility.

Skin Contact:
Avoid direct contact. // Wear chemical protective clothing, if necessary. As quickly as possible, remove contaminated clothing, shoes and leather goods (e.g. watchbands, belts). Immediately flush with lukewarm, gently flowing water for at least 30 minutes. DO NOT INTERRUPT FLUSHING. If necessary, and it can be done safely, continue flushing during transport to emergency care facility. Quickly transport victim to an emergency care facility. Completely decontaminate clothing, shoes and leather goods before re-use or discard.

Eye Contact:
Avoid direct contact. Wear chemical protective gloves, if necessary. Immediately flush the contaminated eye(s) with lukewarm, gently flowing water for at least 30 minutes, while holding the eyelid(s) open. If a contact lens is present, DO NOT delay irrigation or attempt to remove the lens. Neutral saline solution may be used as soon as it is available. DO NOT INTERRUPT FLUSHING. If necessary, continue flushing during transport to emergency care facility. Take care not to rinse contaminated water into the unaffected eye or onto the face. Quickly transport victim to an emergency care facility.

NEVER give anything by mouth if victim is rapidly losing consciousness, is unconscious or convulsing. Have victim rinse mouth thoroughly with water. DO NOT INDUCE VOMITING. Have victim drink 60 to 240 mL (2 to 8 oz) of water. If vomiting occurs naturally, have victim rinse mouth with water again. Quickly transport victim to an emergency care facility.

First Aid Comments:
Provide general supportive measures (comfort, warmth, rest).
Consult a doctor and/or the nearest Poison Control Centre for all exposures except minor instances of inhalation or skin contact.
Some first aid procedures recommended above require advanced first aid training. Protocols for undertaking advanced procedures must be developed in consultation with a doctor and routinely reviewed.
All first aid procedures should be periodically reviewed by a doctor familiar with the material and its conditions of use in the workplace.


Flash Point:
86 deg C (186 deg F) (closed cup) (22,57)

Lower Flammable (Explosive) Limit (LFL/LEL):
3.0% (22,57)

Upper Flammable (Explosive) Limit (UFL/UEL):
23.5% at 140 deg C (22,57)

Autoignition (Ignition) Temperature:
410 deg C (770 deg F) (22)

Sensitivity to Mechanical Impact:
Not sensitive.

Sensitivity to Static Charge:
Ethanolamine is not expected to accumulate static charge. Ethanolamine vapour is not expected to ignite by a static discharge at room temperature due to its relatively high flash point.

Electrical Conductivity:
1.1 X 10(9) pS/m (22)

Minimum Ignition Energy:
Not available.

Combustion and Thermal Decomposition Products:
Ethanolamine starts to decompose at 200 deg C and undergoes self-sustaining exothermic decomposition above 250 deg C. Contaminants such as caustics or acids can lower the decomposition temperatures.(61) Nitrogen oxides, ammonia, hydrogen cyanide, nitriles, isocyanates, nitrosamines, formaldehyde, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, and other irritating and toxic fumes may be formed in a fire.

Fire Hazard Summary:
Combustible liquid. Can form explosive mixtures with air at, or above, 86 deg C. Risk of spontaneous combustion. Hazardous decomposition may occur above 200 deg C. Concentrated water solutions are combustible and corrosive to eyes and skin and may burn. Vapour is heavier than air and can accumulate in confined spaces and low areas. During a fire, toxic nitrogen oxide, hydrogen cyanide, or formaldehyde gases may be formed. Heat from a fire can cause a rapid build-up of pressure inside containers, which may cause explosive rupture.

Extinguishing Media:
Water spray or fog, dry chemical, or alcohol resistant foam.

Extinguishing Media to be Avoided:
Carbon dioxide reacts with amines to form thermally unstable carbamate salts.

Fire Fighting Instructions:
Evacuate area. Fight fire from a protected location or maximum distance possible. Approach fire from upwind to avoid hazardous vapours and toxic decomposition products. Wear full protective gear if exposure is possible. See advice in Protection of Firefighters.
Stop leak before attempting to stop the fire. Dike to prevent spread of liquid. If the leak cannot be stopped, and if there is no risk to the surrounding area, let the fire burn itself out.
Foam manufacturers should be consulted for recommendations regarding types of foams and application rates. Water can be applied as a fine spray or fog to absorb the heat of the fire, to cool exposed containers and materials, and to extinguish the fire. Use water spray to dilute spills, to raise the flash point, and to flush spills away from ignition sources. Solid streams of water may be ineffective and spread material.
If a leak or spill has not ignited, use water spray in large quantities to disperse the vapours, and to protect personnel attempting to stop a leak. Closed containers may explode in the heat of the fire. Always stay away from ends of tanks, but be aware that flying material (shrapnel) from ruptured tanks may travel in any direction. Withdraw immediately in case of rising sound from venting safety device or any discolouration of tank due to fire. If possible isolate materials not yet involved in the fire and move containers from fire area if this can be done without risk. Protect personnel. Otherwise, cool fire-exposed containers, tanks or equipment by applying hose streams. Cooling should begin as soon as possible (within several minutes) and should concentrate on any unwetted portions of the container. Apply water from the side and a safe distance. Cooling should continue until well after the fire is out. If this is not possible, use unmanned monitor nozzles and immediately evacuate area.
For an advanced or a massive fire in a large area, use unmanned hose holder or monitor nozzles; if this is not possible withdraw from fire area and allow fire to burn.
After the fire has been extinguished, the resulting water solutions of ethanolamine are corrosive and may be combustible. Corrosive and explosive atmospheres may be present. Before entering such an area especially confined areas, check the atmosphere with an appropriate monitoring device while wearing full protective gear.
Containers or tanks should not be approached directly after they have been involved in a fire, until they have been completely cooled down.

Protection of Fire Fighters:
Ethanolamine and its decomposition products such as nitrogen oxides and hydrogen cyanide are hazardous to health. Do not enter without specialized protective equipment suitable for the situation. Firefighter's normal protective equipment (Bunker Gear) will not provide adequate protection. A full-body encapsulating chemical protective suit with positive pressure self-contained breathing apparatus (NIOSH approved or equivalent) may be necessary.


NFPA - Health: 3 - Short exposure could cause serious temporary or residual injury.
NFPA - Flammability: 2 - Must be moderately heated or exposed to relatively high temperatures before ignition can occur.
NFPA - Instability: 0 - Normally stable under fire conditions, and not reactive with water.


Molecular Weight: 61.08

Conversion Factor:
1 ppm = 2.49 mg/m3; 1 mg/m3 = 0.401 ppm at 25 deg C (calculated)

Physical State: Liquid
Melting Point: 10.5 deg C (50.9 deg F) (56)
Boiling Point: 171 deg C (340 deg F) (56)
Relative Density (Specific Gravity): 1.018 at 20 deg C (water = 1) (57)
Solubility in Water: Soluble in all proportions (56,57)
Solubility in Other Liquids: Soluble in all proportions in polar solvents such as ethanol, methanol and acetone. Moderately soluble in diethyl ether and other slightly polar solvents. Slightly or insoluble in non-polar solvents such hexanes and other hydrocarbons.(21,57)
Coefficient of Oil/Water Distribution (Partition Coefficient): Log P(oct) = -1.31 at 19 deg C (56,58)
pH Value: 11.7 (1M solution, 6%) (calculated); 12.1 (4M solution, 25%) (calculated)
Basicity: Strong organic base.
Dissociation Constant: pKb = 4.5 at 25 deg C (59)
Viscosity-Dynamic: 19.35 mPa.s (19.35 centipoises) at 25 deg C (59); 21.1 mPa.s (21.1 centipoises) at 25 deg C (57); 14.86 mPa.s (14.86 centipoises) at 30 deg C (60)
Surface Tension: 48.3 mN/m (48.3 dynes/cm) at 25 deg C (57,59)
Vapour Density: 2.1 (air = 1) (calculated)
Vapour Pressure: 0.053 kPa (0.40 mm Hg) at 25 deg C (56)
Saturation Vapour Concentration: 526 ppm at 25 deg C (calculated)
Evaporation Rate: Less than 1 (butyl acetate = 1)
Henry's Law Constant: 3.29 X 10(-3) Pa.m3/mol (cited as 3.25 X 10(-8) atm.m3/mol (estimated)) at 25 deg C (56); log H = -5.88 (dimensionless constant; calculated)

Other Physical Properties:
DIELECTRIC CONSTANT: 37.72 at 25 deg C (dimensionless) (22,59)


Normally stable.

Hazardous Polymerization:
Does not occur.

Self-Heating Materials:
Ethanolamine is oxidized by air slowly with evolution of heat (exothermic reaction) and self-heats. This reaction may lead to spontaneous combustion at temperatures above 50 deg C if the substance is on an adsorbent or on a high surface area (e.g. metal wire mesh). For example, porous materials (e.g. absorbent material or thermal insulation) soaked with ethanolamine may undergo spontaneous combustion due to exothermic reaction with air. (61)

Incompatibility - Materials to Avoid:

NOTE: Chemical reactions that could result in a hazardous situation (e.g. generation of flammable or toxic chemicals, fire or detonation) are listed here. Many of these reactions can be done safely if specific control measures (e.g. cooling of the reaction) are in place. Although not intended to be complete, an overview of important reactions involving common chemicals is provided to assist in the development of safe work practices.

STRONG OXIDIZING AGENTS (e.g. hydrogen peroxide; nitric acid, perchlorates, hypochlorites) - React violently with risk of fire or explosion. Reaction with hypochlorites forms unstable chloroamines, which may explode at room temperature.(24) Reaction with nitric acid is exothermic and may produce nitrogen gas rapidly and result in spattering of corrosive mixture.(64,65)
STRONG ACIDS (e.g. hydrogen halides, sulfuric acid, chlorosulfonic acid) - Reaction with concentrated acids is vigorous or violent.(24,65)
NITRATING AGENTS (e.g. mixture of concentrated nitric acid and concentrated sulfuric acid) - May form unstable nitro compounds that pose an explosion risk if subjected to shock or if heated rapidly and uncontrollably.(24)
DIAZOTIZATION AGENTS (e.g. mixture of sodium nitrite and hydrochloric acid) - Forms unstable diazonium salts, which are explosive and sensitive to friction, shock, heat and radiation.(24)
MERCURY - Reacts to form shock-sensitive compounds.(24)
CELLULOSE NITRATE - Spontaneous ignition has occurred following contact with cellulose nitrate of high surface area (dry or alcohol-wet gun cotton or scrap) when ethanolamine is used as curing agent for epoxide resins.(24)
NITROMETHANE - Reaction product may detonate; organic amines and nitromethane form sensitive explosive mixtures.(24)
NITROPHENOLS - Form shock-sensitive compounds.(24)
HALOGENATING AGENTS (e.g. bromine gas, thionyl chloride), LEWIS ACIDS (e.g. boron trichloride, aluminum chloride), ACYLATING AGENTS (e.g. acetyl chloride, phosgene) or ALKYLHALIDES (e.g. benzylchloride or t-butylchloride) - Reaction evolves heat. Releases toxic and corrosive hydrogen halide gas, toxic chloroethylamines, or unstable aziridine, which may polymerize violently.(3) Reaction with phosgene forms thermally unstable isocyanate compounds.(24,62,65)
IRON - Forms an unstable pyrophoric complex.(22,24)
ALKALI METALS (e.g. sodium, potassium), ALKALINE EARTH METALS (e.g. calcium, magnesium) or METAL HYDRIDES (e.g. lithium aluminum hydride or sodium hydride) - Releases flammable hydrogen gas and a very strong corrosive base.
ALUMINUM - Reacts with aluminum on warming giving off flammable hydrogen gas. Exothermic reaction with an induction period.(1,24)
MONOMERS (unsaturated compounds such as epoxides, vinyl chloride, vinyl acetate, acrylic monomers, acrolein and acrylonitrile) - Can react violently.(24,62,64)
CARBON DISULFIDE, ISOCYANATES and ISOTHIOCYANATES - Reaction may be rapid and may evolve heat.(62,64)
CARBON DIOXIDE - Forms thermally unstable amine carbamate salts. Spontaneous ignition has occurred following contact with air but the fire extinguished when sufficient amount of carbon dioxide was released.(3,64)

Hazardous Decomposition Products:
Ethanolamine is slowly oxidized by air. Thermally unstable carbamates and transient N-oxides such as hydroxylamines or aldoximes are formed.(62,63) Oxidation of ethanolamine and decomposition of oxidation products is accelerated by light, heat, and/or in the presence of metals or metal oxides.

Conditions to Avoid:
Prolonged exposure to air, temperatures above 85 deg C.

Corrosivity to Metals:
Dry ethanolamine is corrosive to aluminum alloys at elevated temperatures, zinc, and aluminum bronze. Dry ethanolamine is not corrosive to most stainless and carbon steel alloys, and some aluminum alloys (3003, 5052, 6061T6) at room temperature.(8) However, the presence of carbon dioxide increases corrosion of carbon steel.(66) Moist ethanolamine or water solutions of ethanolamine are corrosive to copper and copper alloys (e.g. brass), some aluminum alloys, zinc, zinc alloys, and galvanized surfaces.

Corrosivity to Non-Metals:
Ethanolamine attacks polyvinylidene fluoride, chlorinated polyvinylchloride, polyvinylchloride, polyamide-imide, polyurethane, polyacetal polymers, polycarbonate, and thermoset polyesters. Slightly attacks polypropylene, Kevlar, and high density polyethylene. Does not attack Teflon, most polyamide nylons, and thermoset epoxy plastics.(67) Moist ethanolamine or water solutions of ethanolamine are basic and therefore will etch glass.


LC50 (mouse): greater than 1210 mg/m3 (4-hour exposure; assumed aerosol, since concentration exceeds the saturation vapour concentration); cited as greater than 2420 mg/m3 (2-hour exposure)(10, unconfirmed)

LD50 (oral, female rat): 1720 mg/kg (26)
LD50 (oral, male rat): 1970 mg/kg (26)
LD50 (oral, mouse): 700 mg/kg (10, unconfirmed); a secondary source (34) reports that the test material was 75% ethanolamine, and 5-6% diethanolamine and triethanolamine in water

LD50 (oral, mouse): 1475 mg/kg (27)*
LD50 (oral, rabbit) 1000 mg/kg (27)*
LD50 (oral, guinea pig): 620 mg/kg (27)*
*Note: Methods not described

LD50 (dermal, rabbit): 1000 mg/kg (28)

Eye Irritation:

Ethanolamine is corrosive to the eyes.

Application of 0.1 mL undiluted ethanolamine caused extreme irritation in rabbits (maximum score, greater than or equal to 96/110 at 96 hours and 7 days).(29) Application of in excess of a 5% solution of ethanolamine caused corrosive injury in rabbits (scored over 5 where 5 is severe injury; graded 9/10).(30) In an unpublished study, 0.2 mL of 30% ethanolamine in water was applied to the eyes of rabbits then rinsed after 15 seconds. The exposure caused moderate irritation described as slight discomfort, slight irritation and slight clouding of the cornea, which healed in 48 hours.(31, unconfirmed)

Skin Irritation:

Ethanolamine is corrosive to the skin.

Application of 0.5 mL undiluted or 45% ethanolamine in water, to intact skin under a patch for 4 hours, caused tissue damage (necrosis) in rabbits (scores at 24 hours: edema, 4/4; redness, 4/4).(28) Application of 0.5 mL of undiluted ethanolamine to intact and damaged skin, under a patch for 23 hours, caused severe irritation in rabbits (primary irritation index 7.0/8).(29) Moderate or severe irritation was caused by open application of 1 mL/kg of 5-20% ethanolamine in water to mice and 20% ethanolamine in water to rats (scoring information not provided).(32) In an unpublished study, application of 30% ethanolamine (amount and vehicle not reported), under a patch to intact and damaged skin for 4 hours, caused visible destruction of the tissue at the site of application in rabbits. Exposure for 24 hours caused tissue death (necrosis).(31, unconfirmed) In another unpublished study, application of 85 or 100% ethanolamine (amount and vehicle not reported), under a patch to intact and damaged skin, for 4 hours caused corrosive injury in 1 rabbit.(31, unconfirmed) In other unpublished studies, 25%, 50% or 75% solutions of ethanolamine in water were corrosive to rabbit skin.(33, unconfirmed) In an inhalation study, continuous exposure to as low as 12 ppm ethanolamine vapour caused skin irritation in rats and dogs. This irritation may have occurred from direct contact with liquid ethanolamine, which condensed on the cages and on the animals.(9)

Effects of Short-Term (Acute) Exposure:

Dogs and cats survived exposures to 2470 mg/m3 (cited as 2.47 mg/L) ethanolamine mist for 4 days (7 hr/d). Exposure to 580 mg/m3 (cited as 0.58 mg/L) ethanolamine mist was lethal to 4/6 guinea pigs in 1 hour. When rats, mice and rabbits were exposed for 5 days (7 hr/d) to 260 mg/m3 (cited as 0.26 mg/L) ethanolamine mist, 1/61 animals died. The effects observed were primarily those of respiratory tract irritation. Eye irritation was negligible. Animals that died showed acute lung irritation, and liver and kidney damage. Animals that survived exposure to high concentrations showed lung injury (e.g. acute bronchitis and pneumonia).(12) Dogs, guinea pigs and rats were exposed continuously (24 hr/d, 7 d/wk) to ethanolamine. Exposures to 102 ppm for 30 days (dogs), 75 ppm for 24 days (guinea pigs), and 66 ppm for 30 days (rats) caused behavioural changes (e.g. discomfort, restlessness, irritability, decreased alertness, apathy, depression and lethargy), lung inflammation and damage to skin, liver and kidneys. Blood changes were also observed in the dogs. At day 30, 2/3 dogs survived while at days 24 and 28, 75% of the guinea pigs and 83% of the rats had died, respectively.(9)

Skin Contact:
In an unpublished study, 0.1 mL of 1-100% ethanolamine (vehicle not reported) was applied 10 times over 2 weeks to the ears or abdomens of rabbits (numbers not reported). At 1%, the effects were described as "irritating", at greater than 1% "extremely irritating" and at 10% or higher "corrosive".(31, unconfirmed) Ethanolamine is absorbed slowly through the skin. About 19% of ethanolamine applied to the skin of nude mice was absorbed after 24 hours. Human skin grafted to the same mice absorbed 18.5% after 24 hours. The amounts absorbed after 1 hour were 1.9 and 1.7% for mouse and human skin respectively.(35) In a study with excised human skin, 0.61% undiluted ethanolamine was absorbed, while 1.11% of a 22% water solution was absorbed.(36)

In a range finding study, mice (3/group) were given 0, 10, 100 or 1000 mg/kg/day for 5 days. At 1000 mg/kg/day, all mice showed clinical signs of toxicity and died. No signs of toxicity or deaths occurred at 10 or 100 mg/kg/day.(18) Female mice (5/group) given a single oral dose of 50, 110, 250, or 500 mg/kg showed leg weakness after dosing at all levels. This effect cleared by 5 hours post-treatment.(70) The use of controls was not reported.

Effects of Long-Term (Chronic) Exposure:

Dogs, guinea pigs and rats were exposed continuously (24 hr/d, 7 d/wk) to ethanolamine. Exposure for 90 days to 12 or 26 ppm (dogs), 15 ppm (guinea pigs) and 12 ppm (rats) caused skin irritation and behavioural changes (such as discomfort, restlessness, irritability, decreased alertness, apathy, depression and lethargy). Exposure to 5 ppm for 40 days (rats) and to 6 ppm for 60 days (dogs) resulted in skin irritation and minor behavioural changes (slight decrease in alertness and activity and slowness of movement).(9)

Male rats were fed 0, 0.01, 0.1 or 1.0% ethanolamine in the diet for 32 days. Approximate doses were 0, 6, 60 or 600 mg/kg/day. There were no effects on body weight gain or blood composition. The only effect noted was a significant increase in liver weight at 6 and 60 mg/kg/day, but not at 600 mg/kg/day.(37) In poorly reported study, rats were given 160-2670 mg/kg/day ethanolamine (cited as 0.16-2.67 g/kg/day) for 90 days. At 640 mg/kg/day and higher, there were altered liver or kidney weights. At 1280 mg/kg/day and higher, there were deaths.(38) No statistical evaluation was reported.

Skin Sensitization:
In a study with few details, 4/5 guinea pigs were reported to be sensitized in a "drop on" test.(39) No conclusions can be drawn from this study because of the low animal numbers and lack of detail. In an unconfirmed study, a mixture containing 1-20% ethanolamine was not sensitizing in guinea pigs.(40, unconfirmed)

Teratogenicity, Embryotoxicity and/or Fetotoxicity:
The available evidence does not indicate that ethanolamine is a developmental toxin. In well-conducted studies using rats and rabbits exposed dermally or rats exposed orally ethanolamine showed no developmental toxicity even at doses that caused maternal toxicity.
Rats (30-45/group) and rabbits (15/group) were dermally exposed to 0, 10, 25 or 75 mg/kg/day ethanolamine in water on days 6-15 (rats) or 6-18 (rabbits) of pregnancy (6 hr/d). Rats were also dermally exposed to 225 mg/kg/day using the same protocol. Rats dosed with 225 mg/kg/day and rabbits given 25 or 75 mg/kg/day had skin irritation that became more severe as the study progressed. Rats exposed to 225 mg/kg/day had a significantly decreased body weight gain, while rabbits exposed to 75 mg/kg/day had a non-significant decrease in body weight gain. No developmental toxicity was observed at any dose in either species.(14) Rats (40/group) were given oral doses of 40, 120 or 450 mg/kg/day on days 6-15 of pregnancy. A significant decrease in food consumption and in body weight gain was noted in mothers at 450 mg/kg/day. No signs of developmental toxicity were noted at any dose.(41) A limited study has shown a significant decrease in the number of viable litters in the offspring of mice given oral doses of ethanolamine, which also produced maternal toxicity.(18) In another limited study, developmental effects were seen in the offspring of rats given oral doses, which were not toxic to the mothers.(13)

Reproductive Toxicity:
The limited information available does not indicate that ethanolamine is a reproductive toxin.
Sperm formation was repressed in dogs continuously exposed to 102 ppm ethanolamine for 30 days and appeared to be decreased in guinea pigs continuously exposed to 75 ppm for 24 days.(9) These doses were quite toxic to the animals.

The available information does not indicate that ethanolamine is a mutagen. Negative results were obtained in an unconfirmed test using live mice and in most tests using cultured mammalian cells, bacteria and yeast.
In an unpublished study, a negative result (micronucleus test) was obtained in mice given oral doses of 375, 750 or 1500 mg/kg.(40, unconfirmed)
A negative result (chromosome aberrations) was obtained in cultured mammalian cells, with their own metabolic activation (rat liver cells).(15) There was a dose-related increase in chromosome aberrations in cultured human lymphocytes, without metabolic activation. The results for sister chromatid exchanges were also reported as positive, however the data presented do not support this conclusion.(42) Negative results (gene mutation) were obtained in bacteria, with and without metabolic activation, in several studies.(15,42,43) Negative results (mitotic gene conversion) were also obtained in yeast, with and without metabolic activation.(15)
In a study using male mice, ingestion of 10-30 mg/kg ethanolamine enhanced the repair of the liver injury caused by intraperitoneal injection of carbon tetrachloride 24 hours earlier.(44)


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(8) Pruett, K.M. Chemical resistance guide to metals and alloys: a guide to chemical resistance of metals and alloys. Compass Publications, 1995. p. 122-133 (ethanolamine)
(9) Weeks, M.H., et al. The effects of continuous exposure of animals to ethanolamine vapor. American Industrial Hygiene Association Journal. Vol. 21, no. 4 (Oct. 1960). p. 374-381
(10) RTECS record for ethanolamine. Last updated 2004-05.
(11) Scientific basis for Swedish occupational standards XIII. Vol. 47. Arbet Miljo Institute, 1992. p. 5-9
(12) Treon, J.F., et al. The toxicity of monoethanolamine in air. Kettering Laboratory, 1957 [NIOSHTIC-00012017]
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(14) Liberacki, A.B., et al. Evaluation of the developmental toxicity of dermally applied monoethanolamine in rats and rabbits. Fundamental and Applied Toxicology. Vol. 31 (1996). p. 117-123
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(17) 2-Aminoethanol. Fiche Toxicologique. No. 146 (1991). p. 313-316
(18) Environmental Health Research and Testing Inc. Screening of priority chemicals for reproductive hazards final report: monoethanolamine, diethanolamine, triethanolamine with cover letter dated 04/18/90. Date produced: Aug. 1985. Union Carbide Corp. EPA/OTS 86-900000423. NTIS/OTS0526003.
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(20) Ruth, J.H. Odor thresholds an irritation levels of several chemical substances: a review. American Industrial Hygiene Association Journal. Vol. 47 (1986). p. A-142-A-151
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(24) Urben, P.G., ed. Bretherick's reactive chemical hazards database. [CD-ROM]. 6th ed. Version 3.0. Butterworth-Heinemann Ltd., 1999 (2-hydroxyethylamine, aluminum reaction with 2-propanol or methanol)
(25) European Communities (EC). Commission Directive 2004/73/EC. Apr. 29, 2004
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(27) Sidorov, K.K., et al. Data for establishment of a maximum admissible concentration for monoethanolamine in the workplace air. {Translation} Environmental Space Science. Vol. 2 (1968). p. 289-292
(28) Olajos, E.J., et al. Acute dermal toxicity evaluation of product solutions resulting from the chemical neutralization of HD, GB, and VX via monoethanolamine (MEA). Government Reports Announcements and Index (GRA&I), Issue 02, 1997
(29) Dutertre-Catella, H., et al. Etude comparative de l'agressivité cutanée et oculaire des éthanolamines (mono, di, tri et poly). Archives des maladies professionnelles de médecine du travail et de sécurité sociale. Vol. 43, no. 6 (1982). p. 455-460
(30) Carpenter, C.P., et al. Chemical burns of the rabbit cornea. American Journal of Ophthalmology. Vol. 29 (1946). p. 1363-1372
(31) Cosmetic Ingredient Review. Final report on the safety assessment of triethanolamine, diethanolamine and monoethanolamine. Journal of the American College of Toxicology. Vol. 2 (1983). p. 183-233
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(34) Binks, S.P., et al. Occupational exposure limits. Criteria document for ethanolamine. Commission of the European Communities, 1992
(35) Klain, G.J., et al. Distribution and metabolism of topically applied ethanolamine. Fundamental and Applied Toxicology. Vol. 5 (1985). p. S127-S133
(36) Sun, J.D., et al. In vitro skin penetration of monoethanolamine and diethanolamine using excised skin from rats, mice, rabbits, and humans. Journal of Toxicology - Cutaneous and Ocular Toxicology. Vol. 15, no. 2 (1996). p. 131-146
(37) Health and safety studies for diethanolamine with cover letter dated 04/19/89. Date produced: Apr. 7 1982. Eastman Kodak Co. EPA/OTS 86-890000205. NTIS/OTS0516742.
(38) Smyth, H.F. Jr., et al. Range-finding toxicity data : list IV. Archives of Industrial Hygiene and Occupational Medicine. Vol. 4 (1951). p. 119-122
(39) Initial submission: skin sensitization study of 2-aminoethanol in guinea pigs with cover letter dated 09/28/92. Date produced: Sept. 28, 1992. EPA/OTS 88-920009213. NTIS/OTS 0546495.
(40) European Commission. Ethanolamine. IUCLID Dataset. European Chemicals Bureau, Feb. 2000. Available at: <>
(41) Hellwig, J., et al. Evaluation of the pre-, peri-, and postnatal toxicity of monoethanolamine in rats following repeated oral administration during organogenesis. Fundamental and Applied Toxicology. Vol. 40 (1997). p. 158-162
(42) Arutyunyan, R.M., et al. Study of the mutagenic effect of latex polymerization stabilizers on various test systems. {Translation} Tsitologiya i Genetika. Vol. 21, no. 6 (1987). p. 450-454
(43) Hedenstedt, A. Mutagenicity screening of industrial chemicals: seven aliphatic amines and one amide tested in the Salmonella/microsomal assay. Mutation Research. Vol. 53 (1978). p. 198-199
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(46) Kamijo, Y., et al. Acute respiratory distress syndrome following asthma-like symptoms from massive ingestion of a monoethanolamine-containing detergent.
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Information on chemicals reviewed in the CHEMINFO database is drawn from a number of publicly available sources. A list of general references used to compile CHEMINFO records is available in the database Help.

Review/Preparation Date: 2005-10-05

Revision Indicators:
Toxicological info 2006-03-10
Long-term exposure 2006-03-10
Bibliography 2006-05-18

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