Standard Operating Procedure for Urethane (Ethyl Carbamate, Carbamic Acid Ethyl Ester)


Standard Operating Procedure for Urethane (Ethyl Carbamate, Carbamic Acid Ethyl Ester)

EHS SOP #: 009

Version No.: 1.0

Supercedes: N/A

Urethane Formula


Urethane is an anesthetic commonly used alone or in combination with other drugs in university animal research facilities and individual laboratories. This document establishes procedures for the safe handling and use of urethane (CAS# 51-79-6).

Health Effects

Urethane occurs as colorless crystals or as a white powder which has little or no odor. It is commonly dissolved in solvent for intravenous (IV) or intraperitoneal (IP) injection into small animals for use in anesthesia. Urethane is classified as a mutagen, probable carcinogen (IARC Group 2A) and OSHA select carcinogen. Urethane is readily absorbed through the skin, can target multiple organs, suppresses bone marrow, readily crosses the placenta, induces fetal tumor formation (in utero), and initiates pre-neoplastic changes in the skin.1

Regulatory Limits

The Federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) does not have a Permissible Exposure Limit (PEL) for urethane.


Based on the risk associated with the use of urethane the safety procedures outlined below are required by all research staff when working with urethane.

Administrative Controls

  • Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) protocols that include urethane should reference this SOP to verify that the
    standard operating procedures are being followed.
  • Anyone who handles urethane is required to review this SOP and the attached Safety Data Sheet (SDS) prior to work.
  • An emergency eyewash station should be located inside lab spaces and a safety shower should be accessible nearby where urethane solutions are prepared and handled.
  • Containers of urethane should be kept closed at all times unless actively dispensing.
  • Once mixed into solution, urethane should be transferred into a sealed bottle to prevent volatilization and spillage.
  • Areas where urethane is prepared and/or administered should be cleaned immediately following each task utilizing a detergent/water solution.
  • Researchers should wash hands thoroughly with soap and water after handling and use.
  • Pregnant females should consult their primary care physician before handling due to known fetotoxicity.

Engineering Controls

  • All operations involving handling of powders or solutions must be conducted in a properly operating chemical fume hood or ducted biological safety cabinet.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

  • Nitrile gloves, a lab coat, and safety glasses when handling powder and stock solutions.
  • When in Division of Comparative Medicine (DCM) facilities, PPE use must be consistent with the facility policy.

Waste Disposal

  • Needles used for urethane injections must be properly disposed of in a Sharps container and must never be bent, sheared or recapped.
  • Unused powders or solutions of urethane must be disposed of as a hazardous material through EHS.

Accidents or Injuries

Spill Procedures

  • Do not attempt to clean-up if you feel unsure of your ability to do so or if you perceive the risk to be greater than normal laboratory operations.
  • If a small spill occurs absorb with absorbent pads. Double bag contaminated solid waste and submit a request through EHS for hazardous material pickup.
  • If a large spill occurs notify others in the area and evacuate room immediately. Contact EHS (919-962-5507) during working hours and 911 if after hours.

Contact Information

Policy Contact

Environment, Health & Safety
1120 Estes Drive
Campus Box #1650
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-1650
Phone: 919-962-5507


1. Field, K. J. and Lang, C. M. (1988) Hazards of urethane (ethyl carbamate): a review of the literature. Laboratory Animals 22, 255-262.

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Article ID: 132078
Thu 4/8/21 9:23 PM
Tue 10/18/22 11:03 AM
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