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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1] ; Associate Editor(s)-in-Chief: Aditya Govindavarjhulla, M.B.B.S. [2]

Synonyms and keywords: methylene chloride


Dichloromethane (DCM) or methylene chloride is the chemical compound with the formula CH2Cl2. It is a colorless, volatile liquid with a moderately sweet aroma. It is widely used as a solvent, the general view being that it is one of the less harmful of the chlorocarbons, and it is miscible with most organic solvents.

Historical perspective

Dichloromethane was first prepared in 1840 by the French chemist Henri Victor Regnault, who isolated it from a mixture of chloromethane and chlorine that had been exposed to sunlight.


Industrially, dichloromethane is produced by reacting either methyl chloride or methane with chlorine gas at 400–500 °C. At these temperatures, both methane and methyl chloride undergo a series of reactions producing progressively more chlorinated products.

CH4 + Cl2CH3Cl + HCl
CH3Cl + Cl2CH2Cl2 + HCl
CH2Cl2 + Cl2CHCl3 + HCl
CHCl3 + Cl2CCl4 + HCl

The output of these processes is a mixture of methyl chloride, dichloromethane, chloroform, and carbon tetrachloride. These compounds are separated by distillation.


It is widely used as a

  • Degreaser.
  • Chemical welding of certain plastics

Other uses

  • Used in Christmas lights called bubble lights
  • Used as a farming tool in Eastern and Central America as a gene adaptation tool.

Often sold under the brand name of "EMA Plastic Weld" it is also used extensively in the modelmaking industry for joining plastic components together - it is commonly referred to as "Di-clo".


Dichloromethane is the least toxic of the simple chlorohydrocarbons, but it is not without its health risks as its high volatility makes it an acute inhalation hazard.

  • Prolonged skin contact can result in the dichloromethane dissolving some of the fatty tissues in skin, resulting in skin irritation or chemical burns.[3]
  • Dichloromethane crosses the placenta. Fetal toxicity in women who are exposed to it during pregnancy however has not been proven.[5]
  • In animal experiments it was fetotoxic at doses that were maternally toxic but no teratogenic effects were seen.[4]

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

See also


  1. Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (September 2000). "Dichloromethane" (PDF). Public Health Goals for Chemicals in Drinking Water. California Environmental Protection Agency.
  2. Fagin J, Bradley J, Williams D (1980). "Carbon monoxide poisoning secondary to inhaling methylene chloride". Br Med J. 281 (6253): 1461. PMID 7437838.
  3. Wells G, Waldron H (1984). "Methylene chloride burns". Br J Ind Med. 41 (3): 420. PMID 6743591.
  4. 4.0 4.1 USDHHS. "Toxicological Profile for Methylene Chloride" (PDF). Retrieved 2006-09-10.
  5. Bell B, Franks P, Hildreth N, Melius J (1991). "Methylene chloride exposure and birthweight in Monroe County, New York". Environ Res. 55 (1): 31–9. PMID 1855488.

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da:Metylenklorid de:Dichlormethan it:Diclorometano lv:Metilēnhlorīds nl:Dichloormethaan fi:Dikloorimetaani sv:Diklormetan Template:WH Template:WS