Sciencemadness Discussion Board


SirViking - 14-7-2014 at 06:04

DMSO and DMF both have very similar solubility properties, especially in regards to HEs, however, I was wondering about the carcinogenic properties of both of these compounds and whether one should be used over the other in the case of dissolving various compounds? I have not been able to find any conclusive results on whether one is more advisable to use over the other health-wise.

Of course, a proper fume hood and safety wear will be used at all times.

Paper on the solubility of HEs:

Burner - 14-7-2014 at 07:07

I prefer alternatives to DMSO when I can use them. Even with very good lab safety practices, accidents happen. The transdermal properties of DMSO make it more likely that unwanted materials make it into the body in such a situation.

One other minor "irritation" regarding DMSO - the thick (16 mil) butyl rubber gloves needed to handle it safely make tactile feedback more difficult for me, and I find that I have more spills that I would like when I need to use these very thick rubber gloves.

SirViking - 14-7-2014 at 11:52

But what are how carcinogenic are these "unwanted materials"? Are there long term dangers associated with the use of DMSO? I know that DMF has been found to be carcinogenic, but is DMSO equally dangerous in comparison?

Chemosynthesis - 14-7-2014 at 13:17

Quote: Originally posted by SirViking  
But what are how carcinogenic are these "unwanted materials"?

That is the primary risk of DMSO. It can allow all kinds of stuff easy access into your body.

Quote: Originally posted by SirViking  
Are there long term dangers associated with the use of DMSO? I know that DMF has been found to be carcinogenic, but is DMSO equally dangerous in comparison?

No. Your biggest danger from the DMSO itself is probably chronic exposure induced skin sensitization, transient eczema or pruritis, etc. Some mixed results imply DMSO as a potential low risk mutagen, but it's actually the control vehicle in Ames testing, which is the gold standard for mutagenicity testing, and very likely a non-issue. It's considered non-carcinogenic and people use it on horses and as a clinical drug carrier in some instances.

It's the number one vehicle control I've used in drug discovery for delivering pharmacophores to target in high throughput screens, and it's annoying because one spill puts all kinds of compounds straight into your systemic circulation, more or less. I don't even think we have the proper gloves for it... which makes me want to look around before our next OSHA inspection.

Dan Vizine - 1-9-2014 at 12:23

We worked with solutions of NaCN in DMSO in volumes up to 5 L and simply used standard thickness Nitrile gloves (not the extremely thin Home Depot variety). I wouldn't give a second thought to a splash on the gloves, just rinse it off, dry the gloves and carry on. OSHA prescribes all kinds of pie-in-the-sky ideals, like hoods that draw 100 linear ft/min - I'm looking at you S***** Associates* - that companies routinely ignore.

I'd always opt for DMSO over DMF, other factors being equal. Of course, both are relatively safe due to low vapor pressures.

*Terms of my settlement prevent discussion of this topic in greater detail. It's interesting to see what goes on in the run-up to an inspection, after OSHA receives a formal complaint. In the case I'm aware of, prior notice allowed all sorts of temporary band-aids, hiding of long-standing practices (Like carts with full 22 L flasks being wheeled through the 1 aisle lunchroom) and subtle employee intimidation to take place.

[Edited on 2-9-2014 by Dan Vizine]

Panache - 2-9-2014 at 06:19

There are no unsafe chemicals, only unsafe ways of handling them. As an non-polar aprotic DMF, from my experience (I haven't reviewed this assertion) performs better almost always, with DMSO often closer to acetone than DMF, (perhaps that's a limitless harsh)
Both are annoying, (expensive, high boiling, residual, blah blah). Chemistry needs an adroit solvent in this class that conforms to the old adage, 'all good solvents boil at 80C'.

Consider also MSM when looking at this solvent class. It's a super under-utilised solvent that you can eat!