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CHEMINFO Record Number: 795
CCOHS Chemical Name: Ethyl lactate

Ethyl alpha-hydroxypropionate
1-Hydroxyethanecarboxylic acid, ethyl ester
2-Hydroxypropanoic acid, ethyl ester
2-Hydroxypropionic acid, ethyl ester
Lactic acid, ethyl ester
Lactate d'ethyle

CAS Registry Number: 97-64-3
UN/NA Number(s): 1192
RTECS Number(s): OD5075000
EU EINECS/ELINCS Number: 202-598-0
Chemical Family: Saturated aliphatic hydroxy carboxylic acid ester / saturated aliphatic hydroxy monocarboxylic acid ester / hydroxyalkanoic acid ester / alkyl hydroxyalkanoate / ethyl ester / lactate
Molecular Formula: C5-H10-O3
Structural Formula: CH3-CH(OH)-C(=O)-O-CH2-CH3


Appearance and Odour:
Colourless liquid with a mild, characteristic odour.(2)

Odour Threshold:
0.2 ppm (1 mg/m3) (1 citing unpublished information); 1.66 ppm (reported as 8 mg/m3) (detection) (6)

Warning Properties:
Information not available for evaluation

Ethyl lactate can exist in two chemical forms (isomers), ethyl D-lactate, ethyl L-lactate. Generally, it is available commercially as a mixture of the two forms, ethyl DL-lactate.

Uses and Occurrences:
Ethyl lactate is used as a high boiling solvent that can be diluted to a high degree with non-solvents; as a solvent for nitrocellulose, ethyl cellulose, many cellulose ethers and resins, and basic dyes; as a degreaser; used in lacquers, paints, enamels, varnishes, stencil sheets, and safety glass; as a flavouring agent in beverages and various foods, such as ice-cream, candy, baked goods, gelatins and puddings; in cosmetic formulations, such as nail enamel correctors, creams, lotions and perfume; in soap and detergent; and as a treatment for acne.(1,2,7,8)
Ethyl lactate occurs naturally in apples, citrus fruits, pineapple, peas, alcoholic beverages, vinegar and cocoa.(3)


Colourless liquid with a mild, characteristic odour. COMBUSTIBLE LIQUID AND VAPOUR. EYE IRRITANT. Causes severe eye irritation.


Effects of Short-Term (Acute) Exposure

The potential health effects of ethyl lactate are unknown. Mild irritation of the nose and throat may occur. Unconfirmed animal toxicity values for related lactates (methyl and butyl) indicate that inhalation toxicity is low.
One report describes irritation of the nose and throat (upper respiratory passages) following inhalation of unknown concentrations of ethyl lactate. An average concentration of 4.2 ppm, with occasional peaks around 10 ppm, was measured.(1) Additional details are not available in English. The odour of ethyl lactate is reported to be unpleasant by 50% of a test panel at a concentration of 13 ppm.(1 citing unpublished information)

Skin Contact:
Ethyl lactate is not irritating, based on animal and human information. Application of ethyl lactate (concentration unspecified, but believed to be 8%) under a patch for 48 hours did not produce any irritation in volunteers.(1,2,3 citing unpublished information)

Eye Contact:
Ethyl lactate is a moderate to severe eye irritant based on animal information. No human information was located.

There is no human information available. Animal toxicity information suggests that ethyl lactate is not very toxic following ingestion. Ingestion is not a typical route of occupational exposure.

Effects of Long-Term (Chronic) Exposure

There is very little information available on the potential long-term health effects of ethyl lactate, but it is not expected to cause harmful effects.

SKIN SENSITIZATION: No sensitization reactions were observed in a maximization test involving 25 volunteers.(1,2,3 citing unpublished information) There is one case report of an allergic contact dermatitis developing in a person treated therapeutically with a gel containing 10% ethyl lactate. This individual subsequently tested positive to ethyl lactate in a patch test. Previous history of allergies was not discussed.(4) No conclusions can be drawn from this non-occupational case report.


There is no animal or human 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 information available. Negative results were obtained in one animal study.

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

There is no human information available. Negative results have been obtained in bacteria.

Toxicologically Synergistic Materials:
There is no information available.

Potential for Accumulation:
It has been reported that ethyl lactate is metabolized to lactic acid and ethanol after both oral administration and skin application.(1) L(+)-Lactic acid is a normal metabolic intermediate produced by most mammalian cells.(2)


No health effects expected. If symptoms are experienced, remove source of contamination and have victim move to fresh air. If symptoms persist, obtain medical advice.

Skin Contact:
If irritation occurs, flush with lukewarm, gently flowing water for 5 minutes. Obtain medical advice. 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 15-20 minutes, while holding the eyelid(s) open. If a contact lens is present, DO NOT delay irrigation or attempt to remove the lens until flushing is done. Immediately obtain medical attention.

If irritation or discomfort occur, obtain medical advice immediately.

First Aid Comments:
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:
46 deg C (115 deg F) (closed cup); 55 deg C (131 deg F) (closed cup) (technical product) (9)

Lower Flammable (Explosive) Limit (LFL/LEL):
1.5% at 100 deg C (9)

Upper Flammable (Explosive) Limit (UFL/UEL):
11.4% (7)

Autoignition (Ignition) Temperature:
294 deg C (561.2 deg F) (8); 400 deg C (752 deg F) (9)

Sensitivity to Mechanical Impact:
Not sensitive. Stable compound.

Sensitivity to Static Charge:
No specific information is available for ethyl lactate. It will probably not accumulate static charge, since hydroxy esters have high electrical conductivities.

Combustion and Thermal Decomposition Products:
Incomplete combustion may produce irritating fumes and acrid smoke.

Fire Hazard Summary:
Combustible liquid. Can form explosive mixtures with air at, or above, 46 deg C. During a fire irritating/toxic gases may be formed. Closed containers may rupture violently or explode and suddenly release large amounts of product when exposed to fire or excessive heat for a sufficient period of time.

Extinguishing Media:
Carbon dioxide, dry chemical powder, alcohol foam, polymer foam, or water spray or fog.(10) Alcohol-resistant fire-fighting foam is recommended for use on all water-soluble liquids, or polar-type solvents.

Fire Fighting Instructions:
Evacuate area and fight fire from a safe distance or protected location. Approach fire from upwind to avoid hazardous and toxic decomposition products.
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. Application should begin as soon as possible and should concentrate on any unwetted portions of the container. Cool containers from the side until well after the fire is out. If the above cooling procedure 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.
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: 3 - Short exposure could cause serious temporary or residual injury.
NFPA - Flammability: 2 - Must be moderately heated or exposed to relatively high ambient temperatures before ignition can occur.
NFPA - Instability: 0 - Normally stable, even under fire conditions, and not reactive with water.


Molecular Weight: 118.13

Conversion Factor:
1 ppm = 4.82 mg/m3; 1 mg/m3 = 0.207 ppm at 25 deg C (calculated)

Physical State: Liquid
Melting Point: -25.0 deg C (-13 deg F) (2,8)
Boiling Point: 154.5 deg C (310.1 deg F) (2,8,11)
Relative Density (Specific Gravity): 1.0302 at 20 deg C (DL); 1.0324 at 20.4 deg C (D); 1.0314 at 20 deg C (L) (water = 1) (2)
Solubility in Water: Soluble in all proportions with partial decomposition (2)
Solubility in Other Liquids: Soluble in all proportions with ethanol and other alcohols, diethyl ether, ketones, esters, hydrocarbons, gasoline, and oil (2,11,12)
Coefficient of Oil/Water Distribution (Partition Coefficient): Not available
pH Value: Not available
Vapour Density: 4.1 (air = 1) (7)
Vapour Pressure: 0.2 kPa (1.5 mm Hg) at 20 deg C (1,8)
Saturation Vapour Concentration: Approximately 2000 ppm (0.2%) at 20 deg C (calculated)
Evaporation Rate: 0.22 (butyl acetate = 1); 80 (diethyl ether = 1) (8)
Critical Temperature: Not available

Other Physical Properties:
VISCOSITY-DYNAMIC: 2.61 mPa.s (2.61 centipoise) at 20 deg C (13); 2.44 mPa.s (2.44 centipoise) at 25 deg C (11)
VISCOSITY-KINEMATIC: 2.53 mm2/s (2.53 centistokes) at 20 deg C (calculated)
SURFACE TENSION: 28.75 mN/m (28.75 dynes/cm) at 20 deg C (14); 28.26 mN/m (28.26 dynes/cm) at 25 deg C (calculated) (11)
DIELECTRIC CONSTANT: 13.1 at 25 deg C (11)


Normally stable. May decompose partially in water.(2)

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. hydrogen peroxide, potassium permanganate, or chromates) - may react vigorously or violently, with risk of fire and explosion.(10,15))
STRONG ACIDS (e.g. sulfuric or nitric acids) or BASES (e.g. sodium or potassium hydroxide) - decomposition (hydrolysis) can occur, releasing heat. The reaction may be vigorous or violent.(10)

Hazardous Decomposition Products:
Lactic acid

Conditions to Avoid:
Heat, open flames

Corrosivity to Metals:
No specific information is available for ethyl lactate. Methyl lactate, a closely related chemical was not corrosive to steel, silicon cast iron, gray cast iron or nickel cast iron.(16)


LD50 (oral, rat): Greater than 5000 mg/kg (1/10 deaths) (2,3 citing unpublished information)
LD50 (oral, rat): 8200 mg/kg (tested in a product containing 50% ethyl lactate) (2 citing unpublished information)
LD50 (oral, mouse): 2500 mg/kg (5)

LD50 (dermal, rabbit): Greater than 5000 mg/kg (0/10 deaths) (2,3 citing unpublished information)

Eye Irritation:

Ethyl lactate is a moderate to severe eye irritant.

Application of 0.5 mL to rabbits for 1 minute produced the most severe degree of reaction observed (equally irritating as 95% ethanol). The eye injury was not reversed after 7 days.(5)

Skin Irritation:

No irritation was reported in rabbits following the application of an unspecified amount of ethyl lactate for 24 hours.(5) Application of 5-20% ethyl lactate to guinea pigs did not produce irritation.(3)

Effects of Short-Term (Acute) Exposure:

In one study, 1/8 rats died when given food containing 5% ethyl lactate for 12 days.(1,3)

Skin Sensitization:
Application of 5-20% ethyl lactate did not produce an allergic reaction in guinea pigs (details not provided).(3)

Teratogenicity, Embryotoxicity and/or Fetotoxicity:
No effects were observed in the offspring of rats following skin application of up to 2068 mg/kg/day ethyl lactate on days 6-15 of pregnancy.(1, citing unpublished information)


Selected Bibliography:
(1) Criteria Group for Occupational Standards, National Institute for Working Life. Consensus report for lactates. In: Scientific Basis for Swedish Occupational Standards XVI. Edited by P. Lundberg. Arbete Och Halsa. Vol. 19 (1995). p. 68-73
(2) Final report on the safety assessment of glycolic acid, ammonium, calcium, potassium, and sodium glycolates, methyl, ethyl, propyl, and butyl glycolates, and lactic acid, ammonium, calcium, potassium, sodium, and TEA- lactates, methyl, ethyl, isopropyl, and butyl lactates, and lauryl, myristyl, and cetyl lactates. International Journal of Toxicology. Thirty-fourth report of the Cosmetic Review Expert Panel. Vol. 17, suppl. 1 (1998). p. 1-241
(3) Opdyke, D.L.J., et al. Monographs on fragrance raw materials: ethyl lactate. Food and Cosmetics Toxicology. Vol 20, suppl. (1982). p. 677-678
(4) Marot, L., et al. Allergic contact dermatitis to ethyl lactate. Contact Dermatitis. Vol. 17, no. 1 (1987). p. 45-46
(5) Latven, A.R., et al. Comparison of the toxic, hypnotic and irritating properties of eight organic solvents. Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics. Vol. 65 (Jan. 1939). p. 89-94
(6) European Economic Communities. Commission Directive 98/98/EC. Dec. 15, 1998
(6) Fischetti, Jr., F. Flavors and spices: flavors. In: Kirk-Othmer encyclopedia of chemical technology. 4th ed. Vol. 11. John Wiley and Sons, 1994. p. 21
(7) HSDB database record for ethyl lactate. Last revision date: 97/05/01
(8) Stoye, D., et al. Solvents. In: Ullman's encyclopedia of industrial chemistry. 5th revised ed. Vol. A 24. VCH Verlagsgesellschaft, 1993. p. 448-454, 481, 485, 494
(9) Fire protection guide to hazardous materials. 13th ed. Edited by A.B. Spencer, et al. National Fire Protection Association, 2002. NFPA 325
(10) The Sigma-Aldrich library of chemical safety data. Ed. II. Vol. 1. Sigma-Aldrich Corporation, 1988. p. 1629D
(11) Dean, J.A. Lange's handbook of chemistry. 14th ed. McGraw-Hill, Inc., 1992. p. 1.208, 5.107
(12) Chahal, S.P. Lactic acid. In: Ullmann's encyclopedia of industrial chemistry. 5th completely revised ed. Vol. A 15. VCH Verlagsgesellschaft, 1990. p. 97-105
(13) Van Ness, J.H. Hydroxy carboxylic acids: lactic acid: esters. In: Kirk- Othmer encyclopedia of chemical technology. 3rd ed. Vol. 13. John Wiley and Sons, 1981. p. 89
(14) Jasper, J.J. Surface tension of pure liquid compounds. In: Compilation of data of some 2200 pure liquid compounds. Journal of Physical and Chemical Reference Data. Vol. 1, no. 4 (1972). p. 854
(15) Pohanish, R.P., et al. Rapid guide to chemical incompatibilities. Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1997. p. 362, 476
(16) Corrosion data survey: metals section. 6th ed. National Association of Corrosion Engineers, 1985. p. 148-1
(17) 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: 2000-04-04

Revision Indicators:
EU Class 2000-05-01
EU Risk 2000-05-01
EU Safety 2000-05-01
EU Comments 2000-05-01
Bibliography 2003-04-18
NFPA (health) 2003-04-18
WHMIS disclosure list 2003-07-13
Toxicological info 2006-01-25
Short-term eye contact 2006-01-25
WHMIS detailed classification 2006-01-25
WHMIS proposed classification 2006-01-25
WHMIS health effects 2006-01-25
Emergency overview 2006-01-25
First aid eye 2006-01-25
Handling 2006-01-26
Eye/face protection 2006-01-26

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