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Bromomethane

The chemical compound bromomethane is an organic halogen compound with formula BrCH3. It is a colorless, nonflammable gas with no distinctive smell. It occurs naturally in small amounts in the ocean where it is formed, probably by algae and kelp, but is manufactured for industrial use by reacting methanol with hydrobromic acid[?]. Its chemical properties are quite similar to those of chloromethane[?]. Other names for bromomethane are methyl bromide, mono-bromomethane, and methyl fume. Trade names include Embafume and Terabol.

Bromomethane is used to kill a variety of pests including rats, insects, and fungi. It is also used to make other chemicals or as a solvent to get oil out of nuts, seeds, and wool.

Health effects

If you breathe bromomethane you may develop a headache and begin to feel weak and nauseated several hours later. If you breathe large amounts, fluid may build up in your lungs and it may be hard to breathe. It could cause muscle tremors[?], seizures, kidney damage, nerve damage, and even death.

Exposure levels leading to death vary from 1,600 to 60,000 parts of bromomethane in 1 million parts of air (1,600-60,000 ppm), depending on the length of the exposure. These levels are much, much higher than those to which you would normally be exposed to.

The respiratory, kidney, and neurologic effects are of the greatest concern to people. No cases of severe effects on the nervous system from long-term exposure to low levels have been noted in people, but studies in rabbits and monkeys have shown moderate to severe injury.

Swallowing bromomethane may cause stomach irritation. If bromomethane gets on your skin, it can cause itching[?], redness, and blisters. These effects are caused by levels that are higher than levels you might normally encounter.

We do not know if it affects our ability to reproduce. Studies in animals suggest that bromomethane does not cause birth defects and does not interfere with reproduction, except at high exposure levels.



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