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Dichloromethane molecular structure.png
Sample of dichloromethane.jpg
IUPAC name
Other names
Methylene chloride; Methylene dichloride; Solmethine; Narkotil; Solaesthin; Di-clo; Refrigerant-30; Freon-30; R-30; DCM; MDC
3D model (JSmol)
EC Number
  • 200-838-9
RTECS number
  • PA8050000
UN number 1593
Molar mass 84.93 g·mol−1
Appearance Colorless liquid
Odor chloroform-like[1]
Density 1.3266 g/cm3 (20 °C)[2]
Melting point −96.7 °C (−142.1 °F; 176.5 K)
Boiling point 39.6 °C (103.3 °F; 312.8 K)
decomposes at 720 °C[3]
39.75 °C (103.55 °F; 312.90 K)
at 760 mmHg[4]
25.6 g/L (15 °C)
17.5 g/L (25 °C)
15.8 g/L (30 °C)
5.2 g/L (60 °C)[3]
Solubility Miscible in ethyl acetate, alcohol, hexanes, benzene, CCl4, diethyl ether, CHCl3
log P 1.19[5]
Vapor pressure 0.13 kPa (−70.5 °C)
2 kPa (−40 °C)
19.3 kPa (0 °C)
57.3 kPa (25 °C)[6]
79.99 kPa (35 °C)[3]
3.25 L·atm/mol[4]
−46.6·10−6 cm3/mol
1.4244 (20 °C)[4][7]
Viscosity 0.43 cP (20 °C)[4]
0.413 cP (25 °C)
1.6 D
102.3 J/(mol·K)[6]
174.5 J/(mol·K)[6]
−124.3 kJ/mol[6]
-454.0 kJ/mol (from standard enthalpies of formation)[6]
GHS pictograms GHS07: HarmfulGHS08: Health hazard[7]
GHS Signal word Warning
H315, H319, H335, H336, H351, H373[7]
P261, P281, P305+351+338[7]
Eye hazard Irritant
NFPA 704 (fire diamond)
Flammability code 1: Must be pre-heated before ignition can occur. Flash point over 93 °C (200 °F). E.g. canola oilHealth code 2: Intense or continued but not chronic exposure could cause temporary incapacitation or possible residual injury. E.g. chloroformReactivity code 0: Normally stable, even under fire exposure conditions, and is not reactive with water. E.g. liquid nitrogenSpecial hazards (white): no codeNFPA 704 four-colored diamond
Flash point None, but can form flammable vapour-air mixtures above ≈100 °C [8]
556 °C (1,033 °F; 829 K)
Explosive limits 13%-23%[1]
Lethal dose or concentration (LD, LC):
1.25 g/kg (rats, oral)
2 g/kg (rabbits, oral)[3]
24,929 ppm (rat, 30 min)
14,400 ppm (mouse, 7 h)[10]
5000 ppm (guinea pig, 2 h)
10,000 ppm (rabbit, 7 h)
12,295 ppm (cat, 4.5 h)
14,108 ppm (dog, 7 h)[10]
NIOSH (US health exposure limits):
PEL (Permissible)
25 ppm over 8 hours (time-weighted average), 125 ppm over 15 minutes (STEL)[1][9]
REL (Recommended)
IDLH (Immediate danger)
Ca [2300 ppm][1]
Except where otherwise noted, data are given for materials in their standard state (at 25 °C [77 °F], 100 kPa).
☑Y verify (what is ☑Y☒N ?)
Infobox references
Tracking categories (test):

Dichloromethane (DCM or methylene chloride) is an organochloride compound with the formula CH2Cl2. This colorless, volatile liquid with a moderately sweet aroma is widely used as a solvent. Although it is not miscible with water, it is polar, and miscible with many organic solvents.[11]


Natural sources of dichloromethane include oceanic sources, macroalgae, wetlands, and volcanoes.[12] However, the majority of dichloromethane in the environment is the result of industrial emissions.[12]


DCM is produced by treating either chloromethane or methane with chlorine gas at 400–500 °C. At these temperatures, both methane and chloromethane undergo a series of reactions producing progressively more chlorinated products. In this way, an estimated 400,000 tons were produced in the US, Europe, and Japan in 1993.[11]

CH4 + Cl2CH3Cl + HCl
CH3Cl + Cl2 → CH2Cl2 + HCl
CH2Cl2 + Cl2CHCl3 + HCl
CHCl3 + Cl2CCl4 + HCl

The output of these processes is a mixture of chloromethane, dichloromethane, chloroform, and carbon tetrachloride as well as hydrogen chloride as a byproduct. These compounds are separated by distillation.

DCM was first prepared in 1839 by the France chemist Henri Victor Regnault (1810–1878), who isolated it from a mixture of chloromethane and chlorine that had been exposed to sunlight.[13]


DCM's volatility and ability to dissolve a wide range of organic compounds makes it a useful solvent for many chemical processes.[11] In the food industry, it has been used to decaffeinate coffee and tea as well as to prepare extracts of hops and other flavorings.[14] Its volatility has led to its use as an aerosol spray propellant and as a blowing agent for polyurethane foams.

Specialized uses

Near IR absorption spectrum of dichloromethane showing complicated overlapping overtones of mid IR absorption features.

The chemical compound's low boiling point allows the chemical to function in a heat engine that can extract mechanical energy from small temperature differences. An example of a DCM heat engine is the drinking bird. The toy works at room temperature.[15] It is also used as the fluid in Christmas lights that have the colored bubbling tube above a lamp as a source of heat and a small amount of rock salt to provide thermal mass and a nucleation site for the phase changing solvent.

DCM chemically welds certain plastics. For example, it is used to seal the casing of electric meters. Often sold as a main component of plastic welding adhesives, it is also used extensively by model building hobbyists for joining plastic components together. It is commonly referred to as "Di-clo."

It is used in the garment printing industry for removal of heat-sealed garment transfers, and its volatility is exploited in novelty items: bubble lights and jukebox displays.

DCM is used in the material testing field of civil engineering; specifically it is used during the testing of bituminous materials as a solvent to separate the binder from the aggregate of an asphalt or macadam to allow the testing of the materials.[16]

Dichloromethane extract of Asparagopsis taxiformis, a seaweed fodder for cattle, has been found to reduce their methane emissions by 79%.[17]


Symptoms of acute overexposure to dichloromethane via inhalation include difficulty concentrating, dizziness, fatigue, nausea, headaches, numbness, weakness, and irritation of the upper respiratory tract and eyes. More severe consequences can include suffocation, loss of consciousness, coma, and death.[1][18]

DCM is also metabolized by the body to carbon monoxide potentially leading to carbon monoxide poisoning.[19] Acute exposure by inhalation has resulted in optic neuropathy[20] and hepatitis.[21] Prolonged skin contact can result in DCM dissolving some of the fatty tissues in skin, resulting in skin irritation or chemical burns.[22]

It may be carcinogenic, as it has been linked to cancer of the lungs, liver, and pancreas in laboratory animals.[23] Other animal studies showed breast cancer and salivary gland cancer. Research is not yet clear as to what levels may be carcinogenic.[1][18] DCM crosses the placenta. Fetal toxicity in women who are exposed to it during pregnancy, however, has not been proven.[24] In animal experiments, it was fetotoxic at doses that were maternally toxic but no teratogenic effects were seen.[23]

In people with pre-existing heart problems, exposure to DCM can cause abnormal heart rhythms and/or heart attacks, sometimes without any other symptoms of overexposure.[18] People with existing liver, nervous system, or skin problems may worsen after exposure to methylene chloride.[9]


In many countries, products containing DCM must carry labels warning of its health risks.

In February 2013, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health warned that at least 14 bathtub refinishers have died since 2000 from DCM exposure. These workers had been working alone, in poorly ventilated bathrooms, with inadequate or no respiratory protection, and no training about the hazards of DCM.[9][18][25] OSHA has since then issued a DCM standard.[26] In the European Union, the European Parliament voted in 2009 to ban the use of DCM in paint-strippers for consumers and many professionals.[27] The ban took effect in December 2010.[28]

In Europe, the Scientific Committee on Occupational Exposure Limit Values (SCOEL) recommends for DCM an occupational exposure limit (8 h time-weighted average) of 100 ppm and a short-term exposure limit (15 min) of 200 ppm.[29]

Concerns about its health effects have led to a search for alternatives in many of these applications.[11][30]

On March 15, 2019, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a final rule to prohibit the manufacture (including importing and exporting), processing, and distribution of methylene chloride in all paint removers for consumer use, effective in 180 days however it does not affect other products containing methylene chloride including many consumer products not intended for paint removal .

Environmental effects


Dichloromethane is not classified as an ozone-depleting substance by the Montreal Protocol.[31] The U.S. Clean Air Act does not regulate dichloromethane as an ozone depleter.[32] According to the EPA, the atmospheric lifetime of dichloromethane is very short, such that the substance decomposes before reaching the ozone layer.

Ozone concentrations measured at the midlatitudes from the ground up through the stratosphere from 1998 to 2016 have declined by 2.2 Dobson units.[33] The reasons for this decline are unclear, but one unverified hypothesis is the presence of short-lived substances such as dichloromethane in the lower atmosphere.[34]

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards. "#0414". National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). 
  2. Haynes, William M., ed (2011). CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics (92nd ed.). Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press. p. 3.164. ISBN 1439855110. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Properties of Dichloromethane.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 CID 6344 from PubChem
  5. "Dichloromethane_msds". 
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 Methylene chloride in Linstrom, Peter J.; Mallard, William G. (eds.); NIST Chemistry WebBook, NIST Standard Reference Database Number 69, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg (MD), (retrieved 2014-05-26)
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 Sigma-Aldrich Co., Dichloromethane. Retrieved on 2014-05-26.
  8. "Real time measurement of dichloromethane containing mixtures". Health & Safety Laboratory. Retrieved 5 August 2015. 
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 "Methylene Chloride Hazards for Bathtub Refinishers". OSHA-NIOSH Hazard Alert 2013-110. OSHA and NIOSH. Retrieved 22 January 2015. 
  10. 10.0 10.1 "methylene chloride". Immediately Dangerous to Life and Health Concentrations (IDLH). National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). 
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 Rossberg, M. et al. (2006) "Chlorinated Hydrocarbons" in Ullmann's Encyclopedia of Industrial Chemistry, Wiley-VCH, Weinheim. doi:10.1002/14356007.a06_233.pub2.
  12. 12.0 12.1 Gribble, Gordon W. (2009). Naturally Occurring Organohalogen Compounds. Springer. ISBN 978-3211993248. 
  13. Regnault, V. (1839) "De l'action du chlore sur les éthers hydrochloriques de l'alcool et de l'esprit de bois, et de plusieurs points de la théorie des éthers" (On the action of chlorine on the hydrochloric ethers of ethanol and methanol, and on several points of the theory of ethers), Annales de chimie et physique, series 2, 71 : 353–431; see especially: "Seconde partie. De l'action du chlore sur l'éther hydrochlorique de l'esprit de bois" (Second part. On the action of chlorine on the hydrochloric ether of methanol [i.e., chloromethane]), pages 377–380. Regnault gives dichloromethane the name éther hydrochlorique monochloruré (monochlorinated hydrochloric ether). Note: Regnault gives the empirical formula for dichloromethane as C2H4Cl4 because during that era, chemists used incorrect atomic masses.
    Reprinted in German in:
  14. Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (September 2000). "Dichloromethane". Public Health Goals for Chemicals in Drinking Water. California Environmental Protection Agency. 
  15. Perelman, Yakov (1972) [1936]. Physics for Entertainment. 2. pp. 175–178. ISBN 978-1401309213.  [1] [2]
  16. Shell Bitumen (2003-09-25). The Shell Bitumen Handbook. ISBN 978-0-7277-3220-0. 
  17. Lorenna Machado, Marie Magnusson, Nicholas Paul, Nigel Tomkins (2016). "Identification of bioactives from the red seaweed Asparagopsis taxiformis that promote antimethanogenic activity in vitro". Journal of Applied Phycology 28 (5): 3117–3126. doi:10.1007/s10811-016-0830-7. 
  18. 18.0 18.1 18.2 18.3 Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named NIOSHblog
  19. "Carbon monoxide poisoning secondary to inhaling methylene chloride". Br Med J 281 (6253): 1461. 1980. doi:10.1136/bmj.281.6253.1461. PMID 7437838. 
  20. "Severe optic neuropathy caused by dichloromethane inhalation". J Ocul Pharmacol and Ther 24 (6): 607–612. 2008. doi:10.1089/jop.2007.0100. PMID 19049266. 
  21. "Chemically induced hepatitis after inhaling organic solvents". West J Med 148 (4): 458–460. 1988. PMID 3388849. 
  22. "Methylene chloride burns". Br J Ind Med 41 (3): 420. 1984. doi:10.1136/oem.41.3.420. PMID 6743591. 
  23. 23.0 23.1 USDHHS. "Toxicological Profile for Methylene Chloride". Retrieved 2006-09-10. 
  24. "Methylene chloride exposure and birthweight in Monroe County, New York". Environ Res 55 (1): 31–9. 1991. doi:10.1016/S0013-9351(05)80138-0. PMID 1855488. Bibcode1991ER.....55...31B. 
  25. OSHA QuickTakes, February 1, 2013;
  26. Methylene Chloride. Occupational Safety & Health Administration.
  27. "EU Banning Most DCM Paint Strippers," PaintSquare News, retrieved 1/5/14.
  28. "COMMISSION REGULATION (EU) No 276/2010 (Official Journal of the European Union, L 86/7)". 2010-04-01. Retrieved 2012-02-07. 
  29. "SCOEL recommendations". 2011-04-22. Retrieved 2011-04-22. 
  30. Summary of Regulations Controlling Air Emissions from Paint Stripping and Miscellaneous Surface Coating Operations. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency – NESHAP 6H. 
  31. United States Environmental Protection Agency (2015-07-17). "Ozone-Depleting Substances". Retrieved April 20, 2018. 
  32. United States Environmental Protection Agency (October 1995). "Questions and Answers on Ozone-Depleting Solvents and Their Substitutes". Retrieved April 20, 2018. 
  33. Reese, April (2018-02-09). "As polar ozone mends, UV shield closer to equator thins" (in en). Science 359 (6376): 623. doi:10.1126/science.359.6376.623. ISSN 0036-8075. PMID 29439223. Bibcode2018Sci...359..623R. 
  34. Ball, W. T.; Alsing, J.; Mortlock, D. J.; Staehelin, J.; Haigh, J. D.; Peter, T.; Tummon, F.; Stübi, R. et al. (2018-02-06). "Evidence for a continuous decline in lower stratospheric ozone offsetting ozone layer recovery". Atmos. Chem. Phys. 18 (2): 1379–1394. doi:10.5194/acp-18-1379-2018. ISSN 1680-7324. Bibcode2018ACP....18.1379B. 

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