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Ethyl ether

May 1994
Immediately Dangerous to Life or Health Concentrations (IDLH)

CAS number: 60–29–7

NIOSH REL: The 1989 OSHA PEL may not be protective to workers.

Current OSHA PEL: 400 ppm (1,200 mg/m3) TWA

1989 OSHA PEL: 400 ppm (1,200 mg/m3) TWA, 500 ppm (1,500 mg/m3) STEL

1993-1994 ACGIH TLV: 400 ppm (1,210 mg/m3) TWA, 500 ppm (1,520 mg/m3) STEL

Description of Substance: Colorless liquid with a pungent, sweetish odor.

LEL:. . 1.9% (10% LEL, 1,900 ppm)

Original (SCP) IDLH: 19,000 ppm [LEL]

Basis for original (SCP) IDLH: The chosen IDLH is based on the lower explosive limit (LEL) of 19,000 ppm [NFPA 1975]. The toxicological data do not indicate that exposure to this concentration for 30 minutes would impede escape or cause irreversible health effects. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Resources [1973], the inhalation of 3.5% by volume (35,000 ppm) causes loss of consciousness within 30 to 40 minutes, and concentrations above 7.5% (75,000 ppm) are dangerous to life.

Short-term exposure guidelines: None developed


Lethal concentration data:






Adjusted 0.5-hr








Flury and Zernik 1935

Flury and Zernik 1935

Schwetz and Becker 1970

Schwetz and Becker 1970











2 hr

1.65 hr



116,800 ppm (1.6)

9,685 ppm (1.49)



11,680 ppm

969 ppm

Human data: The lowest anesthetic limit is 19,000 ppm [Clayton and Clayton 1981]. It has been stated that the inhalation of 2,000 ppm if continued to equilibrium in the blood would cause dizziness in some persons [Henderson and Haggard 1943]. Concentrations in the workplace of 500 to 1,000 ppm or more have not resulted in demonstrable injury to health [Cook 1945]. It has been reported that the inhalation of 35,000 ppm causes loss of consciousness within 30 to 40 minutes, and concentrations above 75,000 ppm are dangerous to life [Pennsylvania 1973].

Revised IDLH: 1,900 ppm [LEL]

Basis for revised IDLH: Based on health considerations and acute inhalation toxicity data in humans [Clayton and Clayton 1981; cook 1945; Henderson and Haggard 1943], a value between 2,000 and 19,000 ppm would have been appropriate. However, the revised IDLH for ethyl ether is 1,900 ppm based strictly on safety considerations (i.e., being 10% of the lower explosive limit of 1.9%).


1. Clayton GD, Clayton FE, eds. [1981]. Patty's industrial hygiene and toxicology. 3rd rev. ed. Vol. 2A. Toxicology. New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., pp. 2491-2511.

2. Cook WA [1945]. Maximum allowable concentrations of industrial atmospheric contaminants. Ind Med 14:936-949.

3. Flury F, Zernik F [1935]. Zusammenstellung der toxischen und letalen dosen für die gebräuchlichsten gifte und versuchstiere. Abder Hand Biol Arbeitsmethod 4:1289-1422 (in German).

4. Henderson Y, Haggard HW [1943]. Noxious gases. 2nd ed. New York, NY: Reinhold Publishing Corporation, p. 195.

5. NFPA [1975]. Fire protection guide on hazardous materials. 6th ed. Boston, MA: National Fire Protection Association, p. 325M-79.

6. Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Resources [1973]. Hygienic information guide no. 44: ethyl ether. Harrisburg, PA: Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Occupational Health ER7220.88P REV. 8-73.

7. Schwetz BA, Becker BA [1970]. Embryotoxicity and fetal malformations of rats and mice due to maternally administered ether. Toxicol Appl Pharmacol 17:275 [Abstract].