U.S. EPA Contaminated Site Cleanup Information (CLU-IN)

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
U.S. EPA Technology Innovation and Field Services Division

Dense Nonaqueous Phase Liquids (DNAPLs)

Environmental Occurrence

Halogenated Alkanes

Ethylene Dibromide

Ethylene dibromide (EDB) has found its primary use as an exhaust system scavenger in gasolines containing lead antiknock compounds and is still used for this purpose in countries where leaded gasolines are sold. It also has been applied as an agricultural fumigant, but this use in the United States was prohibited in the early 1980s when it was found increasingly in the groundwater of California, Florida, Hawaii, Georgia, and other states (HSDB). EDB is used in the manufacturing of dyes, pharmaceuticals, polymers, and other chemicals, and it is a general solvent for resins, waxes, gums, and dyes (HSDB). A marked decline in production and in the amount of the compound released to the environment followed the banning of leaded fuels in the United States and the canceling of registration for EDB-containing pesticides. EPA's Toxics Release Inventory shows that 99,418 pounds of EDB were disposed of or released in 1988, whereas 2,781 pounds were reported for 2008.

The California Environmental Protection Agency conducted water well sampling throughout the state and analyzed the samples for pesticides. Although EDB has been banned for more than 20 years, it still was found in wells in six California counties, most of which are heavily involved in agricultural activities (Nordmark et al. 2008).

The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) prepares a CERCLA Priority List of Hazardous Substances. The priority list is based on an algorithm that utilizes the following three components: frequency of occurrence at NPL sites, toxicity, and potential for human exposure to the substances found at NPL sites. EDB is the second highest ranked halogenated alkane on the 2007 list.

Zogorski et al. (2006) in a nationwide survey of public and private water wells found that the patterns of detection of EDB were regional or local rather than ubiquitous. EDB was one of eight volatiles tested for in the study that was found at concentrations of potential human health concern.

Miner (2005) reported that EDB is found at approximately half of the underground storage tank (UST) sites assessed in South Carolina as of 2005, suggesting that EDB might be considerably more prevalent at UST sites than has been supposed. The MCL for EDB is 0.05 µg/L, which is below the detection limits of most standard methods.


CERCLA Priority List of Hazardous Substances
Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) Web site.

Ethylene Dibromide, CASRN: 106-93-4
PubChem, National Center for Biotechnology Information.

The Quality of Our Nation's Waters: Volatile Organic Compounds in the Nation's Ground Water and Drinking-Water Supply WellsAdobe PDF Logo
Zogorski, J., J.M. Carter, T. Ivahnenko, W.W. Lapham, M.J. Moran, B.L. Rowe, P.J. Squillace, and P.L. Toccalino.
U.S. Geological Survey Circular 1292, 112 pp, 2006

Sampling for Pesticide Residues in California Well Water: 2007 Update of the Well Inventory Database Adobe PDF Logo
Nordmark, C., J. Dias, M. Clayton, J. Troiano, and M. Pepple.
California Environmental Protection Agency (CalEPA), Department of Pesticide Regulation, EH08-01, 153 pp, 2008

What South Carolina Is Learning about Ethylene Dibromide (EDB) at LUST Sites
Miner, R.
LUSTLine Bulletin 50:11-14(2005)

This article contains a discussion of some treatment technologies that have been used at sites with EDB contamination, as well as occurrence and analytical issues.

For Further Information

An Interim Assessment of Regional and Local Factors Affecting the Occurrence, Movement, and Fate of 1,2-Dibromoethane in the Subsurface, Central Florida
Katz, B.G., and A. Choquette.
in Mallard, G.E., and Ragone, S.E., eds.,
U.S. Geological Survey Toxic Substances Hydrology Program: Proceedings of the Technical Meeting, Phoenix, Arizona, September 26-30, 1988. U.S. Geological Survey Water-Resources Investigations Report 88-4220, p 637, 1989

Adobe PDF LogoNatural Attenuation of the Lead Scavengers 1,2-Dibromoethane (EDB) and 1,2-Dichloroethane (1,2-DCA) at Motor Fuel Release Sites and Implications for Risk Management
Wilson, J.T., K. Banks, R.C. Earle, Y. He, T. Kuder, and C. Adair.
EPA 600-R-08-107, 74 pp, 2008

Toxicological Profile for Ethylene Dibromide
Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), 2018