ethylene oxide

(redirected from 1,2-epoxyethane)
Also found in: Encyclopedia.

ethylene

 [eth´ĭ-lēn]
a colorless, highly flammable gas with a slightly sweet taste and odor, used as an inhalation anesthetic to induce general anesthesia.
ethylene glycol a solvent with a sweet, acrid taste, used as an antifreeze. Acute poisoning by ingestion can result in central nervous system depression, vomiting, hypotension, coma, convulsions, renal damage, and death. While damage is thought to be due to the formed oxalic acid, ethanol is a good treatment because it competitively inhibits alcohol dehydrogenase. The unaltered ethylene glycol is then excreted in the urine.
ethylene oxide a gaseous, flammable alkylating agent with a broad spectrum of activity, capable of killing both spores and viruses; it must be mixed with CO2 or fluorocarbons because it is explosive above 3 per cent. It is used in hospitals, surgery, dentistry, and the pharmaceutical and other industries for disinfecting and sterilizing instruments and equipment that would be destroyed by heat or would be adversely affected by immersion in water or other media. Its optimal germicidal effect occurs after a 3-hour exposure at 30°C.ƒ

Ethylene oxide is toxic because it alkylates tissue constituents; it is carcinogenic and may produce adverse reproductive effects. Inhalation may cause nausea, vomiting, and neurological disorders, and severe exposure may be fatal. Before items exposed to ethylene oxide can be used they must be aired for 5 days at room temperature or for 8 hours at 120° C to remove any trace of the gas. This is also true for articles of clothing, such as gloves and shoes, that have been exposed, because chemical burns can occur when the contaminated clothing comes in contact with the skin.

eth·yl·ene ox·ide

a fumigant, used for cold sterilization of surgical instruments.
Synonym(s): oxirane

ethylene oxide

Occupational medicine A gas used to sterilize medical supplies and other materials

eth·yl·ene ox·ide

(ethi-lēn oksīd)
Fumigant, used for cold sterilization of surgical instruments.