Exploring critical sustainability from #1 DMSO Production and Use

Exploring critical sustainability and impact on the environment from #1 DMSO Production and Use

Dimethyl sulfoxide, commonly known as DMSO, is a versatile organic compound with various applications in various industries, including pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, and electronics. It is a colourless, odourless, and non-toxic solvent that can dissolve both polar and non-polar compounds. While DMSO has numerous benefits, its production and use significantly impact the environment. In this blog post, we will explore the environmental impact of DMSO production and use and discuss its sustainability.

Production of DMSO

DMSO is synthesized from dimethyl sulfide, a byproduct of the paper pulp industry. Dimethyl sulfide is oxidized to produce DMSO using a chemical reaction involving oxygen and sulfur trioxide. The process produces significant sulfur dioxide, a greenhouse gas contributing to climate change. The sulfur dioxide emissions can be reduced by using a scrubber system that converts the gas into sulfuric acid, which can be reused in production. However, this system is not always used, resulting in a high environmental impact.

Another issue with DMSO production is using toxic solvents, such as chloroform and carbon tetrachloride, which are used in the purification process. These solvents harm the environment and human health, and their disposal requires specialized procedures.


Environmental Impact of DMSO Use

DMSO is widely used in the pharmaceutical industry as a solvent for drugs and in the cosmetics industry as a skin penetration enhancer. It is also used in the electronics industry as a solvent for polymers and a cleaning agent for electronic components. While DMSO has many applications, its use has several environmental impacts.

One of the significant environmental impacts of DMSO use is its toxicity to aquatic life. DMSO is highly soluble in water, and even small amounts can harm aquatic organisms. Its use in the electronics industry also poses a risk of groundwater contamination, as it can seep into the soil and groundwater if not disposed of properly.

Another issue with DMSO use is its effect on air quality. DMSO vaporizes easily and can contribute to air pollution. This is a concern, especially in manufacturing facilities that use large quantities of DMSO. The emissions can be reduced by implementing measures such as proper ventilation and using closed systems to prevent evaporation.


Sustainability of DMSO

The environmental impact of DMSO production and use can be mitigated by implementing endurable practices. One way to achieve this is by using alternative production methods that do not involve toxic solvents and minimize emissions of greenhouse gases. Additionally, using renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar power, can help reduce the carbon footprint of DMSO production.

Regarding DMSO use, tolerable practices involve using the compound responsibly and minimizing waste. This can be achieved by using closed systems to prevent evaporation and emissions and properly disposing of any unused DMSO. Recycling DMSO is also an option, as it can be purified and used again in production processes.



DMSO is a versatile compound with many applications in various industries, but its production and use significantly impact the environment. The use of toxic solvents in the production process, emissions of greenhouse gases, and the toxicity of DMSO to aquatic life are some of the environmental impacts of DMSO. However, sustainable practices, such as using alternative production methods, renewable energy sources, and responsible use of DMSO, can mitigate these impacts. As we move towards a more sustainable future, we must consider the environmental impact of every compound we use, including DMSO.


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