Nitroethane is an organic compound having the chemical formula C2H5NO2. Similar in many regards to nitromethane, nitroethane is an oily liquid at standard temperature and pressure. Pure nitroethane is colourless, and has a fruity odor. It is a high volume chemical, with over 1 million pounds of nitroethane being produced or imported into the United States of America per year.
Nitroethane is most commonly used as a solvent for artificial polymers such as styrene, and particularly for dissolving cyanoacrylate adhesives. It has been used as a component in artificial nail remover and in overhead ceiling sealant sprays, although it is not common in such applications. Nitroethane is also used as a fuel additive for increasing the octane rating of gasoline, as a pure fuel in certain drag racing vehicles, and as a propellant.
In addition, nitroethane finds use as a reagent in various syntheses, primarily in organic chemistry (for example, in the artificial synthesis of piperonal and phenylacetone) and for production of pharmaceutical compounds. Among the compounds for which nitroethane is useful, both methamphetamine and MDMA may be synthesized using nitroethane as an essential precursor; for this reason, nitroethane has been designated a List I precursor chemical under the Controlled Substances Act in the USA.
Nitroethane is suspected for damage to the genes and nervous system. Typical TLV/TWA 100 ppm. Typical STEL 150 ppm. Skin contact with nitroethane is known to cause dermatitis in human beings; and in animal studies, the effects of nitroethane exposure were observed to include lacrimation; dyspnea, pulmonary rales, edema; liver, kidney injury; and narcosis.
Also, there have been instances of nitroethane poisoning in children due to accidental ingestion of artificial nail remover.
The LD50 for rats is reported as 1100 mg/kg.
- SCORECARD chemical profile.
- de Souza et al., "(Liquid + liquid) equilibria of (polystyrene + nitroethane). Molecular weight, pressure, and isotope effects." The Journal of Chemical Thermodynamics, Volume 32, Number 3, March 2000, pp. 355-387(33).
- FHS FAQ (from the FHS Supply, Inc. website)
- [http://www.osha.gov/dts/chemicalsampling/data/CH_257200.html "Chemical Sampling Information Nitroethane." Retrieved February 9, 2007, from the website of the US Occupational Safety & Health Administration.]
- C.S. Hornfeldt et al. "Nitroethane poisoning from an artificial fingernail remover." J Toxicol Clin Toxicol. 1994;32(3):321-4. (from PubMed)
- MSDS for nitroethane (revised October 3, 2005), as reported by Fisher Scientific.