International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) - Summaries & Evaluations

(Group 2A)

For definition of Groups, see Preamble Evaluation.

VOL.: 71 (1999) (p. 575)

CAS No.: 77-78-1
Chem. Abstr. Name: Sulfuric acid, dimethyl ester

5. Summary of Data Reported and Evaluation

5.1 Exposure data

Exposure to dimethyl sulfate may occur during its manufacture and its use as a methylating agent.

5.2 Human carcinogenicity data

No epidemiological studies were available to the Working Group. A small number of cases of, mainly, bronchial carcinoma has been reported.

5.3 Animal carcinogenicity data

Dimethyl sulfate was tested for carcinogenicity in rats by inhalation, subcutaneous and intravenous injection, and following prenatal exposure. It produced local sarcomas and tumours of the nervous system.

5.4 Other relevant data

Dimethyl sulfate rapidly decomposes on contact with water, as a result of which it very rapidly disappears from the circulation of dosed rats.

It is corrosive or irritant to the skin, eyes and respiratory tract of exposed people, and may result in death caused by respiratory failure.

Dimethyl sulfate is embryotoxic to rats and causes malformations among surviving foetuses.

Workers exposed to dimethyl sulfate have developed chromosomal aberrations in their circulating lymphocytes. Dimethyl sulfate has been subjected to a broad range of in-vitro tests for genotoxic activity, in which positive results were consistently found without the need for exogenous metabolic activation systems. It has also consistently produced positive responses in the small number of in-vivo tests to which it has been subjected. It forms a variety of alkylated bases with DNA in vitro and the same alkylated bases are formed in vivo.

5.5 Evaluation

There is inadequate evidence for the carcinogenicity in humans of dimethyl sulfate.

There is sufficient evidence for the carcinogenicity in experimental animals of dimethyl sulfate.

Overall evaluation

Dimethyl sulfate is probably carcinogenic to humans (Group 2A).

In making the overall evaluation, the Working Group took into consideration that dimethyl sulfate is a potent genotoxic chemical which can directly alkylate DNA both in vitro and in vivo.

For definition of the italicized terms, see Preamble Evaluation.

Previous evaluations: Vol. 4 (1974); Suppl. 7 (1987)


Last updated: 12 April 1999

    See Also:
       Toxicological Abbreviations
       Dimethyl sulfate (EHC 48, 1985)
       Dimethyl sulfate (HSG 29, 1989)
       Dimethyl sulfate (ICSC)