Sulfuric acid, dimethyl ester (Dimethyl sulfate)

CAS Registry Number 77-78-1

What is it?

  • Sulfuric acid, dimethyl ester, also known as dimethyl sulfate, is an industrial chemical.

How is it used?

  • Dimethyl sulfate is used in Canada in the manufacturing of substances which are then used to manufacture pharmaceuticals.
  • Dimethyl sulfate is also used in the production of products such as dyes, fragrances, surfactants, and water/sewage treatment flocculants. Other products, such as photographic chemicals, can also be produced by using dimethyl sulfate.
  • Based on the most recent data available, dimethyl sulfate is not manufactured in Canada, but is imported into Canada.

Why did the Government of Canada assess it?

  • Dimethyl sulfate was identified as a potential concern to human health based on its classification by international organizations as a substance which was found to cause cancer and genetic damage in some studies with laboratory animals, and based on what was believed to be a moderate potential for exposure to Canadians

How are Canadians exposed to it?

  • Exposure to dimethyl sulfate is expected to be very low and occur predominantly through inhalation of ambient air.
  • Canadians may also be exposed to dimethyl sulfate through emissions from facilities burning fossil fuels containing sulfur.

What Is the Government of Canada doing?

  • The Government of Canada has conducted a science-based evaluation of dimethyl sulfate, called a screening assessment.
  • The Government of Canada has concluded that dimethyl sulfate is considered to be harmful to human health at current levels of exposure.
  • Canadians' exposure is very low and the Government is taking action so that exposure remains low.
  • The Government of Canada will investigate the utility of implementing a future use notification. This would require that any proposed new uses of dimethyl sulfate be subject to further assessment before considering whether to allow such activities.
  • It is also being proposed that dimethyl sulfate be added to the Cosmetic Ingredient "Hotlist" which will prevent its future use in cosmetics.
  • The final screening assessment and the proposed risk management approach were published on August 1, 2009. The proposed risk management approach will be followed by a 60-day comment period, ending September 30, 2009.

What should Canadians do?

  • The health risks associated with a chemical depend on the hazard (its potential to cause health effects) and the dose (the amount of chemical to which you are exposed).
  • Because exposure to dimethyl sulfate is very low, the Government of Canada is not currently recommending specific actions to reduce Canadians' exposure.
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