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Dimethyl disulfide sources, health risks

Tuesday, November 07, 2017 by

Dimethyl disulfide, also known as methyl disulfide, is an organic chemical compound known as the simplest disulfide, a protein structure derived from two thiol groups. This colorless and oily liquid is characterized by having an unpleasant, garlic-like odor. Dimethyl disulfide can naturally occur as a volatile component of biological fluids and human breath, and has even been identified as a constituent of the distinct malodor of the fly-attracting dead horse arum lily.

Harmful effects that can be caused by dimethyl disulfide

Inhaling dimethyl disulfide is dangerous, as doing so can result in headaches, drowsiness, nausea, and dizziness. In more severe cases, acute exposure by way of inhalation can be toxic or fatal. Dimethyl disulfide, combined with fire, has been known to produce irritating or corrosive gases, and vapors that can cause suffocation. In one experiment where rats where exposed to dimethyl disulfide for 30 to 35 minutes, the rats ended up developing pulmonary irritation with lung ecchymoses and had convulsions. While this effect has not yet been observed in humans, it’s still best to excise caution around this substance.

Ingesting dimethyl disulfide can produce side effects similar to those that occur with inhalation. Should this happen, the affected person should never attempt to vomit out this substance. Forcibly vomiting dimethyl disulfide can cause aspiration pneumonitis, wherein the contents of the stomach chemically inflame the lungs following aspiration.

Exposing the skin or eyes to dimethyl disulfide can bring about redness and irritation. Chronic or prolonged exposure has been found to cause allergic dermatitis, a form of eczema that results from an allergic reaction to certain materials.

Body systems harmed by dimethyl disulfide

Individuals who are involved in the handling of dimethyl disulfide are at risk of having their eyes, skin, respiratory and digestive systems harmed by this substance. Frequent and prolonged exposure can be particularly dangerous, making it all the more essential to wear the appropriate protective gear around dimethyl disulfide.

Where to learn more


Dimethyl disulfide is an odorous compound that should never be inhaled or ingested because of its potential to cause nausea, headaches, and dizziness.

The skin and eyes can be affected by dimethyl disulfide. This substance can even bring about allergic dermatitis over a certain period of time.

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