United States	EPA 749-F-94-009
Environmental Protection Decembei 1994
Agency
Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxcs (7401)
dBAChemicails in the
Environment
CARBONYL SULFIDE
(CAS NO. 463-58-1)

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Chemicals can be released to the envi-
ronment as a result of their manufac-
ture, processing, and use. The EPA has
developed information summaries on
selected chemicals to describe how you
might be exposed to these chemicals,
how exposure to them might affect you
and the environment, what happens to
them in the environment, who regulates
them, and whom to contact for addi-
tional information EPA is committed to
 - * <  
reducing environmental releases of
chemicaJs through source reduction and
other practices that reduce creation of
pollutants.
WHAT IS CARBONYL SULFIDE,
HOW IS IT USED, AND HOW
MIGHT I BE EXPOSED?
Carbonyl sulfide is a colorless,
flammable gas. Ft is odorless when pure
but may have a sulfur odor when it
contains impurities. It occurs naturally
in petroleum crude oil, in salt marshes,
in soil, and in volcanic gases. World-
wide, about 4 billion pounds are re-
leased each year from these natural
sources. Carbonyl sulfide is produced
as a by-product when carbon disulfide is
made. Three companies currently make
carbon disulfide in the United States.
EPA has no information on current
amounts of carbonyl sulfide made or
used in the US. Companies that make
pesticides are thought to be the largest
users of carbonyl sulfide.

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Exposure to carbonyl sulfide can
occur in the workplace or in the environ-
ment following releases to air, water, land,
or groundwater Carbonyl sulfide enters the
body when breathed in with contaminated
air or when consumed with contaminated
food or water. It can also be absorbed
through skin contact. It is not likely to be
stored in the body because of its breakdown
and removal.
WHAT HAPPENS TO CARBONYL
SULFIDE IN THE ENVIRONMENT?
Carbonyl sulfide dissolves when
mixed with water. Some of it reacts with
water to produce hydrogen sulfide. Most
direct releases of carbonyl sulfide to the
environment are to air. Carbonyl sulfide can
also escape from water and soil exposed to
air. Once in air, it can remain for several
years before breaking down to other
chemicals. Because of its ability to mix
with water and its inability to bind well to
soil, carbonyl sulfide that makes its way
into the ground can move through the
ground and enter groundwater. Plants and
animals are not likely to store carbonyl
sulfide.
HOW DOES CARBONYL SULFIDE
AFFECT HUMAN HEALTH AND
THE ENVIRONMENT?
Effects of carbonyl sulfide on
human health and the environment depend

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on how much carbonyl sulfide is
present and the length and frequency
of exposure. Effects also depend on
the health of a person or the condi-
tion of the environment when ex-
posure occurs.
Breathing large amounts of
carbonyl sulfide for short periods of
time can cause a person to lose
consciousness and stop breathing.
Exposure to smaller, non-lethal
amounts of carbonyl sulfide ad-
versely affects the human nervous
system Effects include headaches,
giddiness, dizziness, confusion,
nausea, diarrhea, weakness, and
muscle cramps. The Agency does
not have enough information to
conclude whether or not these ef-
fects are likely to occur at levels of
carbonyl sulfide that are normally
found in the environment.
Human health effects asso-
ciated with breathing or otherwise
consuming small amounts of car-
bonyl sulfide over long periods of
time are not known. Information on
toxic effects associated with repeat
exposure to carbonyl sulfide is not
available.
Carbonyl sulfide is not
likely to cause environmental harm
at levels normally found in the en-
vironment.

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