Bis(chloromethyl) ether

Last updated
Bis(chloromethyl) ether
Bis(chloromethyl) ether.svg
Preferred IUPAC name
Other names
Bis(chloromethyl) ether
Bis-Chloromethyl ether
Chloromethyl ether
Dichlorodimethyl ether
Dichloromethyl ether
3D model (JSmol)
ECHA InfoCard 100.008.030
EC Number 208-832-8
PubChem CID
Molar mass 114.95 g·mol−1
Density 1.33 g/cm3
Melting point −41.5 °C (−42.7 °F; 231.7 K)
Boiling point 106 °C (223 °F; 379 K)
reacts [1]
Vapor pressure 30 mmHg (22°C) [1]
1.4421 [2]
Main hazards carcinogen, reacts with water [1]
H225, H302, H311, H330, H350
Flash point 38 °C (100 °F; 311 K)
US health exposure limits (NIOSH):
PEL (Permissible)
OSHA-regulated carcinogen [1]
REL (Recommended)
potential occupational carcinogen [1]
IDLH (Immediate danger)
N.D. [1]
Except where otherwise noted, data are given for materials in their standard state (at 25 °C [77 °F], 100 kPa).
Infobox references

Bis(chloromethyl) ether is an organic compound with the chemical formula (CH2Cl)2O. It is a colourless liquid with an unpleasant suffocating odour and it is one of the chloroalkyl ethers. Bis(chloromethyl) ether was once produced on a large scale, but was found to be highly carcinogenic and thus such production has all but ceased.

Organic compound chemical compound that contains carbon (except for a several compounds traditionally classified as inorganic compounds)

In chemistry, an organic compound is generally any chemical compound that contains carbon. Due to carbon's ability to catenate, millions of organic compounds are known. Study of the properties and synthesis of organic compounds is the discipline known as organic chemistry. For historical reasons, a few classes of carbon-containing compounds, along with a handful of other exceptions, are not classified as organic compounds and are considered inorganic. No consensus exists among chemists on precisely which carbon-containing compounds are excluded, making the definition of an organic compound elusive.

Chloroalkyl ethers are a class of organic compounds with the general structure R-O-(CH2)n-Cl, characterized as an ether connected to a chloromethyl group via an alkane chain.

A carcinogen is any substance, radionuclide, or radiation that promotes carcinogenesis, the formation of cancer. This may be due to the ability to damage the genome or to the disruption of cellular metabolic processes. Several radioactive substances are considered carcinogens, but their carcinogenic activity is attributed to the radiation, for example gamma rays and alpha particles, which they emit. Common examples of non-radioactive carcinogens are inhaled asbestos, certain dioxins, and tobacco smoke. Although the public generally associates carcinogenicity with synthetic chemicals, it is equally likely to arise in both natural and synthetic substances. Carcinogens are not necessarily immediately toxic; thus, their effect can be insidious.



It was produced industrially from paraformaldehyde and a mixture of chlorosulfonic acid and sulfuric acid. [3] It is also produced as a by-product in the Blanc chloromethylation reaction, formed when formaldehyde (the monomer, paraformaldehyde or formalin) and concentrated hydrochloric acid are mixed, and is a known impurity in technical grade chloromethyl methyl ether.

Paraformaldehyde polymer

Paraformaldehyde (PFA) is the smallest polyoxymethylene, the polymerization product of formaldehyde with a typical degree of polymerization of 8–100 units. Paraformaldehyde commonly has a slight odor of formaldehyde due to decomposition. Paraformaldehyde is a poly-acetal.

Sulfuric acid chemical compound

Sulfuric acid (alternative spelling sulphuric acid), also known as vitriol, is a mineral acid composed of the elements sulfur, oxygen and hydrogen, with molecular formula H2SO4. It is a colorless, odorless, and syrupy liquid that is soluble in water, in a reaction that is highly exothermic.

The Blanc chloromethylation is the chemical reaction of aromatic rings with formaldehyde and hydrogen chloride catalyzed by zinc chloride or other Lewis acid to form chloromethyl arenes. The reaction was discovered by Gustave Louis Blanc (1872-1927) in 1923. The reaction is performed with care as, like most chloromethylation reactions, it produces highly carcinogenic bis(chloromethyl) ether as a by-product.

Because of their carcinogenic potency, the industrial production of chloromethyl ethers ended in most countries in the early 1980s. Bis(chloromethyl) ether was no exception to this with production in the U.S.A. ending in 1982.


Bis(chloromethyl) ether has been extensively used in chemical synthesis, primarily as a crosslinking agent in the manufacture of ion-exchange resins and in the textile industry. It was also used as a linker in the synthesis of certain nerve agent antidotes (asoxime chloride, obidoxime). Bis(chloromethyl) was also effective for chloromethylation of aromatic substrates. [4]

Nerve agents, sometimes also called nerve gases, are a class of organic chemicals that disrupt the mechanisms by which nerves transfer messages to organs. The disruption is caused by the blocking of acetylcholinesterase, an enzyme that catalyzes the breakdown of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter.

Asoxime chloride chemical compound

Asoxime chloride, or more commonly HI-6, is a Hagedorn oxime used in the treatment of organophosphate poisoning.

Obidoxime is a member of the oxime family used to treat nerve gas poisoning. Oximes are drugs known for their ability to reverse the binding of organophosphorus compounds to the enzyme acetylcholinesterase (AChE).


Bis(chloromethyl) ether is carcinogenic. [5] [6] It is one of 13 chemicals considered an OSHA-regulated occupational carcinogen. [7] Chronic exposure has been linked to in increased risk of lung cancer. [5]

Lung cancer cancer in the lung

Lung cancer, also known as lung carcinoma, is a malignant lung tumor characterized by uncontrolled cell growth in tissues of the lung. This growth can spread beyond the lung by the process of metastasis into nearby tissue or other parts of the body. Most cancers that start in the lung, known as primary lung cancers, are carcinomas. The two main types are small-cell lung carcinoma (SCLC) and non-small-cell lung carcinoma (NSCLC). The most common symptoms are coughing, weight loss, shortness of breath, and chest pains.

It is classified as an extremely hazardous substance in the United States as defined in Section 302 of the U.S. Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (42 U.S.C. 11002), and is subject to strict reporting requirements by facilities which produce, store, or use it in significant quantities. [8]

Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act

The Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act of 1986 is a United States federal law passed by the 99th United States Congress located at Title 42, Chapter 116 of the U.S. Code, concerned with emergency response preparedness.

See also

Chloromethyl methyl ether chemical compound

Chloromethyl methyl ether (CMME) is a compound with formula CH3OCH2Cl. It is a chloroalkyl ether. It is used as an alkylating agent and industrial solvent to manufacture the detergent dodecylbenzyl chloride, water repellents and ion-exchange resins. In organic synthesis, it is used for introducing the methoxymethyl (MOM) protecting group, and is thus often called MOM-Cl or MOM chloride. It also finds application as a chloromethylating agent in some variants of the Blanc chloromethylation.

Bis(chloroethyl) ether is an organic compound with the formula O(CH2CH2Cl)2. It is an ether with two 2-chloroethyl substituents. It is a colorless liquid with the odor of a chlorinated solvent.

Related Research Articles

Tetrahydrofuran chemical compound

Tetrahydrofuran (THF) is an organic compound with the formula (CH2)4O. The compound is classified as heterocyclic compound, specifically a cyclic ether. It is a colorless, water-miscible organic liquid with low viscosity. It is mainly used as a precursor to polymers. Being polar and having a wide liquid range, THF is a versatile solvent.

Diazomethane chemical compound

Diazomethane is the chemical compound CH2N2, discovered by German chemist Hans von Pechmann in 1894. It is the simplest diazo compound. In the pure form at room temperature, it is an extremely sensitive explosive yellow gas; thus, it is almost universally used as a solution in diethyl ether. The compound is a popular methylating agent in the laboratory, but it is too hazardous to be employed on an industrial scale without special precautions. Use of diazomethane has been significantly reduced by the introduction of the safer and equivalent reagent trimethylsilyldiazomethane.

Allyl chloride chemical compound

Allyl chloride is the organic compound with the formula CH2=CHCH2Cl. This colorless liquid is insoluble in water but soluble in common organic solvents. It is mainly converted to epichlorohydrin, used in the production of plastics. It is a chlorinated derivative of propylene. It is an alkylating agent, which makes it both useful and hazardous to handle.

Methylamine is an organic compound with a formula of CH3NH2. This colorless gas is a derivative of ammonia, but with one hydrogen atom being replaced by a methyl group. It is the simplest primary amine. It is sold as a solution in methanol, ethanol, tetrahydrofuran, or water, or as the anhydrous gas in pressurized metal containers. Industrially, methylamine is transported in its anhydrous form in pressurized railcars and tank trailers. It has a strong odor similar to fish. Methylamine is used as a building block for the synthesis of many other commercially available compounds.

2-Butanol group of stereoisomers

2-Butanol, or sec-butanol, is an organic compound with formula CH3CH(OH)CH2CH3. This secondary alcohol is a flammable, colorless liquid that is soluble in 3 parts water and completely miscible with polar organic solvents such as ethers and other alcohols. It is produced on a large scale, primarily as a precursor to the industrial solvent methyl ethyl ketone. 2-Butanol is chiral and thus can be obtained as either of two stereoisomers designated as (R)-(−)-2-butanol and (S)-(+)-2-butanol. It is normally found as an equal mixture of the two stereoisomers — a racemic mixture.

Chlorobenzene chemical compound

Chlorobenzene is an aromatic organic compound with the chemical formula C6H5Cl. This colorless, flammable liquid is a common solvent and a widely used intermediate in the manufacture of other chemicals.

Dimethyl sulfate chemical compound

Dimethyl sulfate is a chemical compound with formula (CH3O)2SO2. As the diester of methanol and sulfuric acid, its formula is often written as (CH3)2SO4 or even Me2SO4, where CH3 or Me is methyl. Me2SO4 is mainly used as a methylating agent in organic synthesis.

Allyl alcohol chemical compound

Allyl alcohol (IUPAC name: prop-2-en-1-ol) is an organic compound with the structural formula CH2=CHCH2OH. Like many alcohols, it is a water-soluble, colourless liquid, but it is more toxic than typical small alcohols. Allyl alcohol is used as a raw material for the production of glycerol, but is also used as a precursor to many specialized compounds such as flame-resistant materials, drying oils, and plasticizers. Allyl alcohol can be obtained by many methods. Allyl alcohol is the smallest representative of the allylic alcohols.

2-Chloroethanol is a chemical compound with the formula HOCH2CH2Cl and the simplest chlorohydrin. This colorless liquid has a pleasant ether-like odor. It is miscible with water. The molecule is bifunctional, consisting of both an alkyl chloride and an alcohol functional groups.

Benzyl chloride, or α-chlorotoluene, is an organic compound with the formula C6H5CH2Cl. This colourless liquid is a reactive organochlorine compound that is a widely used chemical building block.

<i>beta</i>-Propiolactone chemical compound

β-Propiolactone is an organic compound of the lactone family, with a four-membered ring. It is a colorless liquid with a slightly sweet odor, highly soluble in water and miscible with ethanol, acetone, diethyl ether and chloroform. The word propiolactone usually refers to this compound, although it may also refer to α-propiolactone.

Dimethoxymethane chemical compound

Dimethoxymethane, also called methylal, is a colorless flammable liquid with a low boiling point, low viscosity and excellent dissolving power. It has a chloroform-like odor and a pungent taste. It is the dimethyl acetal of formaldehyde. Dimethoxymethane is soluble in three parts water and miscible with most common organic solvents.

Crotonaldehyde pair of cis–trans-isomers

Crotonaldehyde is a chemical compound with the formula CH3CH=CHCHO. The compound is usually sold as a mixture of the E- and Z-isomers, which differ with respect to the relative position of the methyl and formyl groups. The E-isomer is more common (data given in Table is for the E-isomer). This lachrymatory liquid is moderately soluble in water and miscible in organic solvents. As an unsaturated aldehyde, crotonaldehyde is a versatile intermediate in organic synthesis. It occurs in a variety of foodstuffs, e.g. soybean oils.

Nitroethane chemical compound

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 colorless and has a fruity odor.

<i>o</i>-Anisidine chemical compound

o-Anisidine (2-anisidine) is an organic compound with the formula CH3OC6H4NH2. A colorless liquid, commercial samples can appear yellow owing to air oxidation. It is one of three isomers of the methoxy-containing aniline derivative.

Quelet reaction

The Quelet reaction is an organic coupling reaction in which a phenolic ether reacts with an aliphatic aldehyde to generate an α-chloroalkyl derivative. The Quelet reaction is an example of a larger class of reaction, electrophilic aromatic substitution. The reaction is named after its creator R. Quelet, who first reported the reaction in 1932, and is similar to the Blanc chloromethylation process.


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards. "#0128". National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).
  2. Evans, L.; Gray, R. (May 1958). "Notes - Preparation of Certain Polychlorodimethyl Ethers". The Journal of Organic Chemistry. 23 (5): 745–746. doi:10.1021/jo01099a602.
  3. Wilhelm Heitmann, Günther Strehlke, Dieter Mayer “Ethers, Aliphatic” Ullmann's Encyclopedia of Industrial Chemistry 2002, Wiley-VCH, Weinheim. doi : 10.1002/14356007.a10_023
  4. Olah, George A.; Beal, David A.; Olah, Judith A. (April 1976). "Aromatic substitution. XXXVIII. Chloromethylation of benzene and alkylbenzenes with bis(chloromethyl)ether, 1,4-bis(chloromethoxy)butane, 1-chloro-4-chloromethoxybutane, and formaldehyde derivatives". The Journal of Organic Chemistry. 41 (9): 1627–1631. doi:10.1021/jo00871a032.
  5. 1 2 "Bis(chloromethyl)ether (BCME) (CASRN 542-88-1)". U.S. environmental protection agency. Retrieved 26 November 2014.
  6. Van Duuren, BL (August 1989). "Comparison of potency of human carcinogens: vinyl chloride, chloromethylmethyl ether and bis(chloromethyl)ether". Environmental research. 49 (2): 143–51. doi:10.1016/s0013-9351(89)80059-3. PMID   2526731.
  7. "NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards: bis-Chloromethyl ether". Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved 26 November 2014.
  8. "40 C.F.R.: Appendix A to Part 355—The List of Extremely Hazardous Substances and Their Threshold Planning Quantities" (PDF) (July 1, 2008 ed.). Government Printing Office . Retrieved October 29, 2011.