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CHEMINFO Record Number: 28
CCOHS Chemical Name: Ethyl propionate

Ethyl propanoate
Propanoic acid, ethyl ester
Propionic acid, ethyl ester
Propionic ester
Propionic ether
Propionate d'ethyle

CAS Registry Number: 105-37-3
UN/NA Number(s): 1195
RTECS Number(s): UF3675000
EU EINECS/ELINCS Number: 203-291-4
Chemical Family: Aliphatic carboxylic acid ester / saturated aliphatic carboxylic acid ester / saturated aliphatic monocarboxylic acid ester / alkyl alkanoate / proprionic acid ester / propionate / ethyl ester
Molecular Formula: C5-H10-O2
Structural Formula: CH3-CH2-C(=O)-O-CH2-CH3


Appearance and Odour:
Colourless liquid with a pineapple or rum-like odour.(6)

Odour Threshold:
0.07-0.12 ppm (cited as 0.3-0.5 mg/m3) (recognition) (7)

Warning Properties:
Information not available for evaluation.

Commercial grade 85-90% ester content.

Uses and Occurrences:
Used as a solvent for cellulose ethers and esters and various natural and synthetic resins; as a fragrance and flavouring agent, e.g. for chewing gum, baked goods and candy; in non-alcoholic beverages, ice cream, ices, fruit syrups, gelatins and puddings; as a cutting agent for pyroxylin; and as a chemical intermediate for pyrimethamine (anti-malarial drug).(7)
Found in several types of wine, in some white grapes and in cocoa.(7)


Colourless liquid with a pineapple or rum-like odour. FLAMMABLE LIQUID AND VAPOUR. Vapour is heavier than air and may spread long distances. Distant ignition and flashback are possible. Mild central nervous system depressant. High vapour concentrations may cause headache, nausea, dizziness, incoordination and confusion.


Effects of Short-Term (Acute) Exposure

Inhalation of vapours or mists can cause symptoms of central nervous system (CNS) depression, such as headache, nausea, dizziness, drowsiness and confusion. High concentrations can cause loss of consciousness and possibly death, based on animal information. There is no human information available.

Skin Contact:
Ethyl propionate is probably not irritating to the skin, based on animal information. There is no human information available.

Eye Contact:
Ethyl propionate is probably slightly irritating to the eyes, based on animal information. There is no human information available.

Ingestion can probably cause symptoms of CNS depression (headache, nausea, dizziness, drowsiness and confusion). Ingestion is not a typical route of occupational exposure.

Effects of Long-Term (Chronic) Exposure

Ethyl propionate can remove natural oils from the skin, resulting in dryness, redness and itching (dermatitis).


There is no human or animal information available.

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 no listing for this chemical.

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

Teratogenicity and Embryotoxicity:
There is no human or animal information available.

Reproductive Toxicity:
There is no human or animal information available.

There is no human or animal information available. Negative results were obtained in short-term tests.

Toxicologically Synergistic Materials:
There is no information available.

Potential for Accumulation:
There is no specific information available. Ethyl propionate probably does not accumulate. Like ethyl acetate, a closely related ester, it is probably readily absorbed through the lungs and gastrointestinal tract, distributed to the blood, brain and other tissues, and rapidly metabolized (broken down) to ethanol and propionic acid, which are metabolized further.


If symptoms are experienced, remove source of contamination or have victim move to fresh air and obtain medical advice.

Skin Contact:
As quickly as possible, flush contaminated area with lukewarm, gently flowing water for at least 5 minutes, or until the chemical is removed. If irritation persists, obtain medical attention immediately. Completely decontaminate clothing, shoes and leather goods before re-use or discard.

Eye Contact:
Immediately flush the contaminated eye(s) with lukewarm, gently flowing water for 5 minutes or until the chemical is removed, while holding the eyelid(s) open. Obtain medical attention immediately.

NEVER give anything by mouth if victim is rapidly losing consciousness, or is unconscious or convulsing. Have victim rinse mouth thoroughly with water. DO NOT INDUCE VOMITING. Have victim drink 240 to 300 mL (8 to 10 ozs) of water. If vomiting occurs naturally, have victim rinse mouth and repeat administration of water. Obtain medical attention immediately.

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.
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:
12 deg C (54 deg F) (closed cup) (9,10)

Lower Flammable (Explosive) Limit (LFL/LEL):
1.9% (10)

Upper Flammable (Explosive) Limit (UFL/UEL):
11.0% (10)

Autoignition (Ignition) Temperature:
440 deg C (824 deg F) (10)

Sensitivity to Mechanical Impact:
Not sensitive. Stable compound.

Sensitivity to Static Charge:
Will not accumulate static charge, since it has a high electrical conductivity (8.3 X 10(10) pS/m).(11) Vapours in the flammable range may be ignited by a static discharge of sufficient energy.

Fire Hazard Summary:
Flammable liquid. Can readily form explosive mixtures with air, at or above 12 deg C. Vapour is heavier than air and may travel a considerable distance to a source of ignition and flash back to a leak or open container. During a fire, irritating/toxic gases may be generated. Can accumulate in confined spaces, resulting in a toxicity and flammability hazard. Closed containers may rupture violently when heated.

Extinguishing Media:
Carbon dioxide, dry chemical powder, alcohol foam or polymer foam. Water may be ineffective because it will not cool ethyl propionate below its flash point. Fire fighting foams are the extinguishing agent of choice for most flammable liquid fires.(12)

Fire Fighting Instructions:
Evacuate area and fight fire from a safe distance or protected location. Approach fire from upwind to avoid toxic decomposition products.
Stop leak before attempting to stop the fire. If the leak cannot be stopped, and if there is no risk to the surrounding area, let the fire burn itself out. If the flames are extinguished without stopping the leak, vapours could form explosive mixtures with air and reignite.
Water can extinguish the fire if used under favourable conditions and when hose streams are applied by experienced firefighters trained in fighting all types of flammable liquid fires. If possible, isolate materials not yet involved in the fire, and move containers from fire area if this can be done without risk, and protect personnel. Otherwise, fire-exposed containers or tanks should be cooled by application of hose streams and this should begin as soon as possible (within the first several minutes) and should concentrate on any unwetted portions of the container. If this is not possible, use unmanned monitor nozzles and immediately evacuate the area.
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. Water spray can be used to dilute spills to nonflammable mixtures and flush spills away from ignition sources. Solid streams of water may be ineffective and spread material.
For 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. Stay away from ends of tanks, but be aware that flying material 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.
Although ethyl propionate is only slightly hazardous to health, its decomposition products may be hazardous. Do not enter without wearing specialized protective equipment suitable for the situation. Firefighter's normal protective equipment (Bunker Gear) may not provide adequate protection. Chemical resistant clothing (e.g. chemical splash suit) and positive pressure self-contained breathing apparatus (MSHA/NIOSH approved or equivalent) may be necessary.


NFPA - Health: 1 - Exposure would cause significant irritation, but only minor residual injury.
NFPA - Flammability: 3 - Liquids and solids that can be ignited under almost all ambient temperature conditions.
NFPA - Instability: 0 - Normally stable, even under fire conditions, and not reactive with water.


Molecular Weight: 102.13

Conversion Factor:
1 ppm = 4.17 mg/m3; 1 mg/m3 = 0.24 ppm at 25 deg C (calculated)

Physical State: Liquid
Melting Point: -74 to -73 deg C (-101 to -99.4 deg F) (7,9,10)
Boiling Point: 99.1 deg C (210.4 deg F) (9,10,13)
Relative Density (Specific Gravity): 0.891 at 20 deg C (water = 1) (9)
Solubility in Water: Moderately soluble (1.7 g/100 mL) (6,9)
Solubility in Other Liquids: Soluble in all proportions in ethanol and diethyl ether; soluble in acetone and most other organic solvents.(6,9,14)
Coefficient of Oil/Water Distribution (Partition Coefficient): Log P(oct) = 1.21 (15)
pH Value: Probably neutral
Vapour Density: 3.52 (air = 1) (10)
Vapour Pressure: 3.6 kPa (27 mm Hg) at 20 deg C (11); 5.0 kPa (37.5 mm Hg) at 25 deg C (10)
Saturation Vapour Concentration: 35500 ppm (3.55%) at 20 deg C; 49350 ppm (4.94%) at 25 deg C (calculated)
Evaporation Rate: 2.3 (n-butyl acetate = 1) (10)
Critical Temperature: 273 deg C (523.4 deg F) (cited as 546 deg K) (9)

Other Physical Properties:
VISCOSITY-DYNAMIC: 0.564 mPa.s (0.564 centipoises) at 15 deg C (9); 0.51 mPa.s (0.51 centipoises) at 25 deg C (10)
VISCOSITY-KINEMATIC: Approximately 0.63 mm2/s (approximately 0.63 centistokes) at 15 deg C (calculated)
SURFACE TENSION: 24.2 mN/m (24.2 dynes/cm) at 20 deg C (10)
CRITICAL PRESSURE: 3364 kPa (33.2 atm) (9)


Stable in the anhydrous state. May slowly hydrolyze to ethanol and propionic acid in the presence of water.(13)

Hazardous Polymerization:
Does not occur

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.

OXIDIZING AGENTS (e.g. chlorine, fluorine, perchlorates or peroxides) - reaction can be violent. Increased risk of fire and explosion.(11,12,16)
NITRATES - May explode.(16)
STRONG ACIDS (e.g. sulfuric acid, oleum, and chlorosulfonic acid) or STRONG BASES (sodium or potassium hydroxide or sodium methoxide) - decomposition (hydrolysis) can occur, releasing heat. The reaction may be vigorous or violent.(12,16)

Hazardous Decomposition Products:
Ethanol and propionic acid.

Conditions to Avoid:
Flames, sparks, electrostatic discharge, heat and other ignition sources, moisture.

Corrosivity to Metals:
Not corrosive to iron, steel, stainless steel, aluminum, copper and nickel and their alloys, and lead.(17)

Stability and Reactivity Comments:
May attack some plastics, rubber and coatings, like other closely related esters, such as ethyl acetate.(13)


LD50 (oral, male rat): 9620 mg/kg (cited as 10.8 mL/kg) (1)
LD50 (oral, female rat): 8730 mg/kg (cited as 9.8 mL/kg) (1)
LD50 (oral, rabbit): 5720 mg/kg (cited as 56 millimoles/kg) (2)

LD50 (skin, rabbit): greater than 14250 mg/kg (cited as greater than 16.0 mL/kg) (1)

Eye Irritation:

Slight irritation with irritation of the iris and moderate irritation of the inner eyelids (maximum score 16.3/110) was observed in rabbits following application of 0.1 mL. Healing occurred within 2 days.(1)

Skin Irritation:

No irritation (scored 0/8) was observed in rabbits after a 4-hour application, under cover.(1) No conclusions can be drawn from an unconfirmed report of moderate irritation in rabbits following a 24-hour application.(3)

Effects of Short-Term (Acute) Exposure:

Half of the rats died following a 32-35 minute exposure to close to the saturation vapour concentration (35500 ppm at 20 deg C; 49350 ppm at 25 deg C).(1) Symptoms of severe central nervous system (CNS) depression were observed in rats after a 43-minute exposure to close to 15000 ppm.(4)


Selected Bibliography:
(1) Myers, R.C., et al. Acute toxicologic evaluation of ethyl propionate. Journal of the American College of Toxicology. Part B: Acute Toxicity Data. Vol. 11, no. 3 (1992). p. 174
(2) Munch, J.C. Aliphatic alcohols and alkyl esters and lethal potencies to tadpoles and to rabbits. Industrial Medicine. Vol. 41, no. 4 (Apr. 1972). p. 31-33
(3) RTECS database record for propionic acid, ethyl ester. Last updated: 1997-04
(4) Schumacher, H., et al. Comparative investigations of the narcotic effectiveness and acute toxicity of nine solvents. English translation. Archiv fuer Gewerbepathologie und Gewerbehygiene. Vol. 18 (1960). p. 109-119 (NIOSHTIC Control Number: 00104909)
(5) Ishidate, M., et al. Primary mutagenicity screening of food additives currently used in Japan. Food and Chemical Toxicology. Vol. 22, no. 8 (1984). p. 623-636
(6) HSDB data base record for ethyl propionate. Last revision date: 97/04/23
(7) Verschueren, K. Handbook of environmental data on organic chemicals. 3rd ed. Van Nostrand Reinhold Company, 1996. p. 989
(8) Fire protection guide to hazardous materials. 13th ed. Edited by A.B. Spencer, et al. National Fire Protection Association, 2002. NFPA 325
(9) Dean, J.A. Lange's handbook of chemistry. 14th ed. McGraw-Hill, Inc., 1992. p. 1.212, 5.108, 6.140
(10) Sullivan, D.A. Solvents, industrial. In: Kirk-Othmer encyclopedia of chemical technology. 4th ed. Vol. 22. John Wiley and Sons, 1997. p. 542, 551, 565
(11) Chemical safety sheets: working safely with hazardous chemicals. Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1991. p. 424
(12) The Sigma-Aldrich library of chemical safety data. Ed. II. Vol. 1. Sigma-Aldrich Corporation, 1988
(13) Riemenschneider, W. Esters, organic. In: Ullmann's encyclopedia of industrial chemistry. 5th completely revised ed. Vol. A 9. VCH Verlagsgesellschaft, 1987. p. 565-585
(14) Weast, R.C., ed. Handbook of chemistry and physics. 66th ed. CRC Press, 1985-1986. p. C-452, D-200, F-40
(15) Leo, A., et al. Partition coefficients and their uses. Chemical Reviews. Vol. 71, no. 6 (Dec. 1971). p. 566
(16) Pohanish, R.P., et al. Rapid guide to chemical incompatibilities. Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1997. p. 365
(17) Corrosion data survey: metals section. 6th ed. National Association of Corrosion Engineers, 1985. p. 58-3 to 59-3
(18) European Communities. Commission Directive 98/98/EC. Dec. 15, 1998

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: 1999-02-02

Revision Indicators:
Bibliography 2000-04-01
EU Safety 2000-04-01
Emergency overview 2000-08-01
Acute exposure (ingestion) 2000-08-01
First aid (ingestion) 2000-08-01
Bibliography 2003-04-18
NFPA (health) 2003-04-18

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