Ethylene Oxide

Definition - What does Ethylene Oxide mean?

Ethylene oxide is an organic chemical compound with the chemical formula C2H4O and exists as a colorless gas at room temperature and normal atmospheric pressure. Ethylene oxide has a sweet smell. It is flammable, and exposure can cause serious health concerns. Ethylene oxide is commonly used as an intermediate for producing industrial chemicals.

Corrosionpedia explains Ethylene Oxide

Some properties of ethylene oxide:

  • Average molar mass: 44.053
  • Boiling point: 10.5°C (51°F)
  • Melting point: -112°C (-170°F)

Ethylene oxide is used to make antifreeze and other engine coolants, paints, lubricants, ointments, detergents and brake fluids. Ethylene oxide is also used to sterilize items such as medical equipment.

Ethylene oxide can cause serious health concerns over time. Short exposure can cause irritation of the respiratory system and eyes. Acute exposure can result in nausea and vomiting. Long-term exposure can cause leukemia, lymphoma and other forms of cancer. Chronic exposure can also cause neurological problems. All of these reasons make it important to limit human exposure to ethylene oxide.

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