Dichloromethane Uses and Effects on Environment

Methylene Chloride

There are two names of Dichloromethane one is methylene chloride and methylene. A lot of students get confused between these names and make a mistake of naming them separately. Methylene chloride is one of your colourless liquid that has a slightly sweet aroma. 


If you have ever liked the smell of a newly painted wall, we are happy to tell you, and you have smelled the methylene chloride as it is used in lots of thinners because of its property of being a potent paint stripper. Today we are going to learn about the uses and the effects of dichloromethane. Also, we are going to discuss its chemical properties and what makes it dangerous for the environment. 


Chemical Properties of Dichloromethane

For starters, let’s tell you one of the unknown names of the dichloromethane, it is also said to be refrigerant-30. You can find it naturally in earth’s oceans, volcanoes, wetlands. But even if you combine all of them still the more substantial part of it comes from the industrial process.


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If you are thinking about preparing it in your lab, you need to have chlorine gas with a temperature of 400 to 500 degrees celsius. Once you can get this temperature, you need to treat methane and chloromethane with it. But we suggest you not to do this experiment as it is dangerous. Because when you prepare dichloromethane it emits toxic fumes in the air. 


There is no defined flashpoint, but it does produce some flammable vapour-air mixtures. Given below is the list of various properties of dichloromethane :

  1. Boiling point of dichloromethane:- 39.6 °C;

  2. Molecular weight:- 84.93 g·mol−1;

  3. Density:- 1.3266 g/cm3;

  4. Melting point:- 96.7 °C;

  5. Solubility in water at room temperature:- 17.5 g/L

These are the most important properties that you need to know before you conduct any experiments with this compound. 


Why Is Dichloromethane Dangerous?

Don’t be alarmed if someone says you should not be staying in a room that has been newly painted, just hours ago. This is because dichloromethane has been classified as a neurotoxin, meaning it can damage your central nervous system which presents in the brain. In addition to this, the high level of exposure to dichloromethane could lead to liver and lung cancer. 


Following are the health dangers associated with dichloromethane :

  1. If you inhale the compound, it can lead to shortness of breath and wheezing. Likewise, if you inhale a large amount of it can cause nausea and a feeling of dizziness. 

  2. Secondly, if it comes in contact with your skin, it can make your skin turn red, and the irritation will occur. On the other hand, if it in contact for a long time, it could eventually lead up to burning your skin. 

  3. In no way you should rub your eyes if you have dichloromethane on your hands, it could lead to permanent damage to your eyes. 

  4. Even a slightest of this liquid compound can cause a chemical burn in your eyes. 


What to do if you were Exposed to Methylene Chloride?

  1. If your eyes get in contact with the compound immediately flush both your eyes with water for at least 30 minutes. If you are wearing any lenses, remove them when cleaning and visit the doctor immediately. 

  2. Apply water and soap immediately to the surface of your skin which was in contact with the compound. If you are still feeling any irritation, consult a doctor. 

  3. When it comes to inhaling the fumes of methylene chloride, it is essential to seek the fresh air immediately. If you are having difficulty in breathing even after getting fresh air, visit your doctor as soon as possible.

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Methylene Chloride Uses in our Daily Lives

Here are some of the products that you see in your daily lives that contain dichloromethane in one form or the other. 

  1. As we mentioned earlier wall paints and paint strippers such as thinner use this compound as their ingredient, thus you get that sweet odour of paint.

  2. Besides, it is also used as adhesives by hobbyists and sculptures in the form of cement to give intricate details to their creation. 

  3. In other cases, it is used as lubrication in automotive to keep its parts running smoothly. 

  4. Lastly, it is used by doctors for making medicines in a specific medical field. 

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. Why is Dichloromethane as a Compound an Excellent Solvent?

Due to its ability to get dissolved with a wide range of organic compounds along with its volatility, it is used as an excellent solvent for performing any large scale chemical reaction. Also, it is non-flammable at room temperature and to convert it in fumes you need to get the compound to 400 degrees celsius.

2. How are Dichloromethane Hazards to the Environment?

When we expose the compound in the air, it evaporates and gets mixed in the air, and the same goes for water. If we put it in the water, it will mix up and then evaporate along with water. From the air, if you inhale the dichloromethane it will be metabolised in carbon monoxide thus, leading your body with oxygen deprivation. 


A very high amount of this compound present in the air can lead to death by suffocation. Long term lower concentration will cause liver and lung problems.


It is not quite a hazard to other gases that emit from factories, it quickly gets evaporated if released in the form of liquid and will start to degrade with the reaction to photochemical products.