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CHEMINFO Record Number: 61
CCOHS Chemical Name: Ethyl acetate

Acetic acid, ethyl ester
Acetic ester
Acetic ether
Ethyl acetic ester
Ethyl ethanoate

Chemical Name French: Acétate d'éthyle
Chemical Name Spanish: Acetato de etilo
CAS Registry Number: 141-78-6
UN/NA Number(s): 1173
RTECS Number(s): AH5425000
EU EINECS/ELINCS Number: 205-500-4
Chemical Family: Aliphatic carboxylic acid ester / saturated aliphatic carboxylic acid ester / saturated aliphatic monocarboxylic acid ester / alkyl alkanoate / acetic acid ester / acetate / ethyl ester
Molecular Formula: C4-H8-O2
Structural Formula: CH3-C(=O)-O-CH2-CH3


Appearance and Odour:
Clear, colourless liquid with a fruity odour.(21)

Odour Threshold:
Range of values reported: 6.4-50 ppm (detection); 13.3-75 (recognition). Geometric mean: 18 ppm (detection); 32 ppm (recognition) (27). 0.17 ppm (perception) also reported.(28)

Warning Properties:
NOT RELIABLE - odour threshold values vary significantly. Nose, throat and eye irritation occurs at about 400 ppm.

Available in a number of grades from 85 to 99.8% purity and which differ slightly in their boiling ranges, acidity and ester content. Ethanol is a main impurity; other impurities may include acetic acid, methyl acetate and methanol.(3,12)

Uses and Occurrences:
Solvent for nitrocellulose, protective coatings (varnishes, lacquers, resins) and plastics; formulating printing inks and adhesives; process solvent in pharmaceutical industry and extraction solvent in food processing; substitute for methyl ethyl ketone in many applications; manufacture of smokeless powder, artificial leather and silk, photographic films and plates; chemical synthesis; flavouring agent and fragrance; cleaning textiles.(3,4) Occurs naturally in yeast and sugar cane.(10)


Clear, colourless liquid with a fruity 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

Exposure to 400 ppm for 3 to 5 minutes caused irritation to the nose and throat in humans.(16) Symptoms such as tension, tiredness, complaints and annoyance have also been reported during 4 or 8 hour exposures to 400 ppm.(19)
Severe exposures may produce signs of central nervous system depression such as shortness of breath, headache, drowsiness and dizziness. One fatal poisoning has been reported, as a result of painting the interior of a truck with a lacquer containing 80% ethyl acetate. Congestion of the upper respiratory tract, spleen and kidney and hemorrhaging in lung tissue were observed.(12)

Skin Contact:
Ethyl acetate was not irritating to the skin in tests using human volunteers and animals.(7,13)

Eye Contact:
The liquid is a mild eye irritant, based on animal information. The vapour has produced eye irritation in humans at 400 ppm.(16)

Animal toxicity values indicate that ethyl acetate is not very toxic by ingestion. Ingested ethyl acetate may cause nausea, vomiting, shortness of breath, headache, drowsiness, dizziness and other signs of central nervous system depression. These effects may be caused in part by ethanol which is released when ethyl acetate is broken down in the body. Ingestion is not a typical route of occupational exposure.

Effects of Long-Term (Chronic) Exposure

Workers exposed regularly to 375 to 1500 ppm for several months experienced no adverse effects.(2)

Prolonged or repeated contact may cause redness, dryness, cracking (dermatitis) due to the defatting action of the solvent.(21)

Skin Sensitization:
The majority of human studies have demonstrated that ethyl acetate does not cause an allergic response on human skin.(18) However, there is one case report of a woman developing a skin allergy to ethyl acetate.(13,21)

Thirty workers exposed chronically to very high concentrations of ethyl acetate (4200 to 13900 ppm) and amyl acetate experienced only mild eye irritation.(1)


No human or animal information available. Probably not carcinogenic. Metabolites of ethyl acetate, ethanol and acetic acid, have not been shown to be carcinogenic.

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:
No human or animal information available.

Reproductive Toxicity:
No human or animal information available.

No human in vivo information available. Ethyl acetate was not mutagenic in an in vivo study with Chinese hamsters.(22)

Toxicologically Synergistic Materials:
In one study, the combination of ethyl acetate and formaldehyde was more acutely toxic to rats than predicted from the toxicities of the individual chemicals.(23)

Potential for Accumulation:
Does not accumulate. Ethyl acetate is readily absorbed through the lungs and gastrointestinal tract, distributed to the blood, brain and other tissues, and rapidly metabolized (broken down) to ethanol and acetic acid, which are metabolized further. Ethanol is found in the blood and the expired air after exposure to ethyl acetate. In a study with human volunteers, unchanged ethyl acetate was totally excreted in the urine within 2 hours after exposure was stopped.(20,21)


This chemical is flammable. Take proper precautions (e.g. remove any sources of ignition). If the victim is unconscious or does not respond, take proper precautions to ensure your own safety before attempting rescue; e.g., wear appropriate protective equipment, use the "buddy" system. Remove source of contamination or move victim to fresh air. If breathing has stopped, trained personnel should begin artificial respiration or, if the heart has stopped, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) immediately. Obtain medical attention immediately.

Skin Contact:
As quickly as possible, flush with lukewarm, gently flowing water for at least 5 minutes or until the chemical is removed. Obtain medical advice.

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. If irritation persists, obtain medical advice.

NEVER give anything by mouth if victim is rapidly losing consciousness, is unconscious or convulsing. DO NOT INDUCE VOMITING. Have victim drink 240 to 300 mL (8 to 10 oz.) of water to dilute material in the stomach. If vomiting occurs naturally, rinse mouth and repeat administration of water. If breathing has stopped, trained personnel should begin artificial respiration or, if the heart has stopped, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) immediately. 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:
-4.4 deg C (24 deg F) (closed cup) (4,10)

Lower Flammable (Explosive) Limit (LFL/LEL):
2.0% (4)

Upper Flammable (Explosive) Limit (UFL/UEL):
11.5% (4)

Autoignition (Ignition) Temperature:
427 deg C (800 deg F) (17)

Sensitivity to Mechanical Impact:
Not sensitive, since it is a stable compound.

Sensitivity to Static Charge:
Probably will not accumulate static charge, since it has a high electrical conductivity (greater than 10(5) pS/m).(25) Vapours in the flammable range may be ignited by a static discharge of sufficient energy (minimum ignition energy = 0.46 millijoules (25)).

Fire Hazard Summary:
Flammable liquid. Material will readily ignite at room temperature. 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. Concentrated solutions in water may be flammable. Closed containers may rupture violently when heated.

Extinguishing Media:
Carbon dioxide, dry chemical powder, alcohol foam, polymer foam. Water may be ineffective because it will not cool ethyl acetate below its flash point. Fire fighting foams are the extinguishing agent of choice for most flammable liquid fires.(26)

Fire Fighting Instructions:
Evacuate area and fight fire from a safe distance or protected location. Approach fire from upwind to avoid hazardous vapours and 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.
Isolate materials not yet involved in the fire and protect personnel. Move containers from fire area if this can be done without risk. 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, to protect personnel attempting to stop a leak. Water spray can be used to dilute spills to nonflammable mixtures and to flush spills away from ignition sources. Solid streams of water may be ineffective and spread material. For a massive fire in a large area,and allow fire to burn. Stay away from ends of tanks. Withdraw immediately in case of rising sound from venting safety device or any discolouration of tank due to fire.
Firefighters may enter the area if positive pressure self-contained breathing apparatus (MSHA/NIOSH approved or equivalent) and full Bunker Gear is worn.


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: 88.11

Conversion Factor:
1 ppm = 3.60 mg/m3; 1 mg/m3 = 0.278 ppm at 25 deg C (calculated)

Physical State: Solid
Melting Point: -83 to -83.6 deg C (-117 to -118.5 deg F) (4,10,21)
Boiling Point: 76.5 to 77.5 deg C (170-171.5 deg F) (26)
Relative Density (Specific Gravity): 0.902 at 20 deg C (water = 1) (4,26)
Solubility in Water: Moderately soluble (8.6 g/100 mL (9.6% v/v) at 20 deg C) (28); more soluble at lower temperatures; less soluble at higher temperatures.(3)
Solubility in Other Liquids: Soluble in ethanol, acetone, chloroform, diethyl ether and benzene. Soluble in all proportions in chloroform, and fixed and volatile oils.(3)
Coefficient of Oil/Water Distribution (Partition Coefficient): Log P(oct) = 0.66; 0.73 (28)
pH Value: Pure anhydrous ethyl acetate is neutral; normally contains small amounts of acetic acid.
Vapour Density: 3.04 (air = 1) (21,28)
Vapour Pressure: 9.73 kPa (73 mm Hg) at 20 deg C (15,21,26)
Saturation Vapour Concentration: Approximately 96000 ppm (9.6%) at 20 deg C (calculated)
Evaporation Rate: 6.2 (butyl acetate = 1)
Critical Temperature: 250 deg C (482 deg F) (3)

Other Physical Properties:
VISCOSITY-DYNAMIC: 0.44 mPa.s (0.44 centipoises) at 25 deg C (3)
SURFACE TENSION: 24 mN/m (24 dynes/cm) at 20 deg C (3)
CRITICAL PRESSURE: 3850 kPa (38 atm) (3)


Stable in the anhydrous state. May slowly hydrolyze to ethanol and acetic acid in the presence of water.(3,4)

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.

STRONG OXIDIZING AGENTS (e.g. nitrates, perchlorates, peroxides) - reaction can be violent. Increased risk of fire and explosion.(15,25,26)
STRONG ACIDS (e.g. sulfuric acid, oleum, and chlorosulfonic acid), STRONG BASES - decomposition (hydrolysis) can occur, releasing heat. The reaction may be vigorous.(15,17,26)
POTASSIUM TERT-BUTOXIDE - contact of the solid butoxide with ethyl acetate vapour caused ignition in 2 minutes.(17,29)
LITHIUM ALUMINUM HYDRIDE - violent explosion can occur.(17,26,29)

Hazardous Decomposition Products:
Ethanol, acetic acid.

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

Corrosivity to Metals:
Not corrosive to iron, steel, aluminum, copper and nickel and their alloys.(30)

Stability and Reactivity Comments:
Can attack some plastics.(4)


LC50 (rat): 19600 ppm (4-hour exposure); cited as 16000 ppm (6-hour exposure) (10)
LC50 (mouse): 10600 ppm (38100 mg/m3) (4-hour exposure); cited as 44000 mg/m3 (3-hour exposure) (8)

LD50 (oral, rat): 10200 mg/kg (cited as 11.3 mL/kg) (7); 5600 mg/kg (5,13)
LD50 (oral, mouse): 4100 mg/kg (32, unconfirmed)
LD50 (oral, rabbit): 4900 mg/kg (9)
LD50 (oral, guinea pig): 5500 mg/kg (31, unconfirmed)

LD50 (dermal, rabbit): Greater than 18000 mg/kg (cited as 20 mL/kg) (7)

Eye Irritation:

Ethyl acetate is a mild eye irritant.

Application of 0.1 mL of undiluted ethyl acetate produced mild irritation (Modified Maximum Average Score: 15/110).(32) Application of 0.5 mL undiluted ethyl acetate caused mild irritation in rabbits (scored 1-5, where 5 is severe injury; graded 2/10).(7) One drop caused redness and moderate swelling in rabbit eyes lasting for 1 to 2 days. The irritation was of similar intensity to 2% acetic acid.(5) Application of 2 drops followed by irrigation with water 2 minutes later caused immediate irregularity of the outer layer of the cornea. Complete healing occurred within 2 days.(1) Extremely high concentrations of vapour or prolonged exposure to vapour caused only irritation or mild eye injury.(1)

Skin Irritation:

Ethyl acetate is a minimal skin irritant.

Application of 0.01 mL produced minimal irritation in rabbits after 24 hours.(7)

Effects of Short-Term (Acute) Exposure:

Cats exposed to 8000 ppm for 20 minutes developed irritation only. With increasing levels of exposure, effects increased and included breathing difficulty, unconsciousness and at 43000 ppm, death after 15 minutes.(5) Mice exposed to 2000 ppm vapour for 17 hours developed eye and nose irritation and breathing difficulty. A 3-4 hour exposure to 5000 ppm caused clouding of the cornea and stupor, followed by recovery. Exposure to 10000 ppm or greater for 45 minutes caused clouding of the cornea, stupor and death in some animals.(5) All 6 rats died following a 4-hour exposure at 16000 ppm. All 6 rats had survived a 4-hour exposure at 8000 ppm.(7) The concentration causing a 50% decrease in the respiratory rate of mice (RD50) has been reported to be 580 and 614 ppm, based on two studies. This concentration is expected to be intolerable to humans.(21)

Effects of Long-Term (Chronic) Exposure:

Animals exposed to 4300 ppm (mice) and 2000 ppm (guinea pig), 6 hours/day for 7 days developed minor blood changes and loss of appetite. There was no indication of liver or kidney injury.(12) Rabbits exposed to 16000 mg/m3 (4440 ppm), 1 hour/day for 40 days developed secondary anemia (decreased number of red blood cells), decreased hemoglobin levels, increased numbers of macrophages, congestion and fatty degeneration of various organs, and enlargement of the spleen.(5) A reviewer suggested that the organ damage may have been due to impurities present in the ethyl acetate.(12)

Negative results were obtained in bone marrow cells from Chinese hamsters exposed orally to 2500 mg/kg.(22)
Negative results were obtained in bacteria in an Ames test.(14) Ethyl acetate produced aneuploidy in one study on yeast (11) and chromosomal aberrations in Chinese hamster cells in vitro (14).


Selected Bibliography:
(1) Grant, W.M. Toxicology of the eye. 4th ed. Charles C. Thomas, 1993. p. 658
(2) Ethyl acetate. In: Documentation of the threshold limit values and biological exposure indices. 6th ed. American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists, 1991. p. 569-570
(3) HSDB record for ethyl acetate. Date of last update: 9501
(4) Tau, K.D., et al. Esters, organic. In: Kirk-Othmer encyclopedia of chemical technology. 4th Ed. Vol. 9. John Wiley and Sons, 1994. p. 781-812
(5) von Oettingen, W.F. The aliphatic acids and their esters: toxicity and potential dangers. A.M.A. Archives of Industrial Health. Vol. 21 (Jan. 1960). p. 28-65
(6) Forsberg, K., et al. Quick selection guide to chemical protective clothing. 4th ed. Van Nostrand Reinhold, 2002
(7) Smyth, Jr., H.F., et al. Range-finding toxicity data: list VI. American Industrial Hygiene Association Journal. Vol. 23 (Mar.-Apr. 1962). p. 95-107
(8) Spealman, C.R., et al. Monomeric methyl methacrylate: studies on toxicity. Industrial Medicine. Vol. 14, no. 4 (Apr. 1945). p. 292-297
(9) Munch, J.C. Aliphatic alcohols and alkyl esters: narcotic and lethal potencies to tadpoles and to rabbits. IMIS: The International Journal of Industrial Medicine and Surgery. Vol. 41, no. 4 (Apr. 1972). p. 31-33
(10) Bisesi, M.S. Esters. In: Patty's Industrial Hygiene and Toxicology. 4th ed. Vol. II. Toxicology. Part D. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1994. p. 2967-2971, 2977-2984
(11) Zimmermann, F.K., et al. Acetone, methyl ethyl ketone, ethyl acetate, acetonitrile and other polar aprotic solvents are strong inducers of aneuploidy in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Mutation Research. Vol. 149 (1985). p. 339-351
(12) Browning, E. Toxicity and metabolism of industrial solvents. Elsevier Publishing Company, 1965. p. 522-525, 591-593
(13) Opdyke, D.L. Monographs on fragrance raw materials: ethyl acetate. Food and Cosmetics Toxicology. Vol. 12 (1974). p. 711-712
(14) Ishidate, M., et al. Primary mutagenicity screening of food additives currently used in Japan. Chemical Toxicology. Vol 22, no. 8 (1984). p. 623-636
(15) NIOSH pocket guide to chemical hazards. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, June, 1994. p. 130-131
(16) Nelson, K.W., et al. Sensory response to certain industrial solvent vapors. Journal of Industrial Hygiene and Toxicology. Vol. 25, no. 7 (Sept. 1943). p. 282-285
(17) Fire protection guide to hazardous materials. 13th ed. Edited by A.B. Spencer, et al. National Fire Protection Association, 2002. NFPA 325; NFPA 491
(18) Final report on the safety assessment of ethyl acetate and butyl acetate. Journal of the American College of Toxicology. Vol. 8, no. 4 (1989). p. 681-705
(19) Seeber, A., et al. Correlations between subjective disturbances due to acute exposure to organic solvents and internal dose. Neurotoxicology. Vol. 13 (1992). p. 265-270
(20) Vangala, R.R., et al. Acute experimental exposures to acetone and ethyl acetate. Archives of Toxicology. Suppl. 14 (1991). p. 259-262
(21) Riihimaki, V. NEG and DEC basis for an occupational health standard: ethyl acetate. Arbete och halsa. No. 35 (1990).
(22) Basler, A. Aneuploidy-inducing chemicals in yeast evaluated by the micronucleus test. Mutation Research. Vol. 174 (1986). p. 11-13
(23) Smyth, Jr., H.F. An exploration of joint toxic actions: twenty-seven industrial chemicals intubated in rats in all possible pairs. Toxicology of Applied Pharmacology. Vol. 14 (1969). p. 340-347
(24) European Communities. Commission Directive 98/98/EC. Dec. 15, 1998
(25) Chemical safety sheets: working safely with hazardous chemicals. Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1991. p. 384
(26) The Sigma-Aldrich library of chemical safety data. Ed. II. Vol. 1. Sigma-Aldrich Corporation, 1988. p. 1563D
(27) Odor thresholds for chemicals with established occupational health standards. American Industrial Hygiene Association, 1989. p. 18, 57
(28) Verschueren, K. Handbook of environmental data on organic chemicals. 2nd ed. Van Nostrand Reinhold Company, 1983. p. 623-624
(29) Bretherick, L. Bretherick's handbook of reactive chemical hazards. 4th ed. Butterworths, 1990. p. 44, 469-470, 474-475
(30) Corrosion data survey: metals section. 6th edition. National Association of Corrosion Engineers, 1985. p. 54-55
(31) RTECS database record for acetic acid, ethyl ester. Last updated: 2000-12
(32) ECETOC. Eye Irritation: Reference chemicals data bank (2nd ed.). Technical Report No. 48(2). ECETOC, June 1998. p. 24-25
(33) Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Organic Vapors. In: OSHA Analytical Methods Manual. Revision Date: Oct. 31, 2001. Available at: <>
(34) National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). Ethyl Acetate. In: NIOSH Manual of Analytical Methods (NMAM(R)). 4th ed. Edited by M.E. Cassinelli, et al. DHHS (NIOSH) Publication 94-113. Aug. 1994. Available at: <>

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: 1995-11-29

Revision Indicators:
US transport 1998-03-01
TLV-TWA 1998-06-01
TLV comments 1998-06-01
EU Class 2000-04-01
EU Risk 2000-04-01
EU Safety 2000-04-01
EU Comments 2000-04-01
Ingestion (Health) 1997-04-01
Toxicological info 2003-01-14
Short-term eye contact 2003-01-14
WHMIS detailed classification 2003-01-14
WHMIS proposed classification 2003-01-14
WHMIS health effects 2003-01-14
Emergency overview 2003-01-14
First aid eye 2003-01-14
Handling 2003-01-14
Eye/face protection 2003-01-14
Bibliography 2003-04-15
PEL transitional comments 2003-11-18
PEL-TWA final 2003-11-18
Resistance of materials for PPE 2004-03-31
Bibliography 2005-03-20
Passive Sampling Devices 2005-03-20
Sampling/analysis 2005-03-20

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