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What are other names or identifying information for toluene?

CAS Registry No.: 108-88-3
Other Names: Methylbenzene, Toluol
Main Uses: Manufacture of other chemicals, solvent.
Appearance: Clear colourless liquid.
Odour: Aromatic

Canadian TDG: UN1294


What is the WHMIS classification?

B2 - Flammable Liquid; D2A - Very Toxic (Teratogenicity/embryotoxicity); D2B - Toxic (Skin irritant)

Symbol for Class B
Class B2
Symbol for Class D2
Class D2A; D2B

What are the most important things to know about toluene in an emergency?

Emergency Overview: Clear colourless liquid. Aromatic odour. HIGHLY FLAMMABLE LIQUID AND VAPOUR. Distant ignition and flashback are possible. Can accumulate static charge. Can float on water and spread fire. CONFINED SPACE HAZARD. Can accumulate in hazardous amounts in low-lying areas especially inside confined spaces. May cause drowsiness and dizziness. IRRITANT. Causes moderate or severe skin irritation. ASPIRATION hazard. May be fatal if swallowed and enters airways. TERATOGEN/EMBRYOTOXIN. May damage the unborn child.


What are the potential health effects of toluene?

Main Routes of Exposure: Inhalation. Skin contact. Eye contact.

  • Inhalation: Can irritate the nose and throat. Can harm the nervous system. Symptoms may include headache, nausea, dizziness, drowsiness and confusion. A severe exposure can cause unconsciousness.
  • Skin Contact: SKIN IRRITANT. Causes moderate to severe irritation. Symptoms include pain, redness, and swelling.Can be absorbed through the skin. Can cause effects as described for inhalation.
  • Eye Contact: May cause mild irritation.
  • Ingestion: Can cause effects as described for inhalation. Aspiration hazard. May be drawn into the lungs if swallowed or vomited, causing severe lung damage. Death can result.
  • Effects of Long-Term (Chronic) Exposure: Can cause dry, red, cracked skin (dermatitis) following skin contact. Exposure to this chemical and loud noise may cause greater hearing loss than expected from noise exposure alone. Effects on colour vision have been reported, but the evidence is inconclusive. May harm the nervous system. Conclusions cannot be drawn from the limited studies available. At high concentrations: May harm the kidneys.
  • Carcinogenicity: Not known to cause cancer.

International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC): Group 3 - Not classifiable as to its carcinogenicity to humans.
American Conference for Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH): A4 - Not classifiable as a human carcinogen.

  • Teratogenicity / Embryotoxicity: DEVELOPMENTAL HAZARD. May harm the unborn child based on animal information. Has been associated with: low birth weight or size, learning disabilities, hearing loss.
  • Reproductive Toxicity: Not known to be a reproductive hazard.
  • Mutagenicity: Not known to be a mutagen.

What are first aid measures for toluene?

Inhalation: Take precautions to prevent a fire (e.g. remove sources of ignition). Move victim to fresh air. Call a Poison Centre or doctor if the victim feels unwell.

Skin Contact: Avoid direct contact. Wear chemical protective clothing if necessary. Quickly take off contaminated clothing, shoes and leather goods (e.g. watchbands, belts). Quickly and gently blot or brush away excess chemical. Immediately wash gently and thoroughly with lukewarm, gently flowing water and non-abrasive soap for 15-20 minutes. If irritation or pain persists, see a doctor. Thoroughly clean clothing, shoes and leather goods before reuse or dispose of safely.

Eye Contact: Avoid direct contact. Wear chemical protective gloves if necessary. Quickly and gently blot or brush chemical off the face. Immediately flush the contaminated eye(s) with lukewarm, gently flowing water for 5 minutes, while holding the eyelid(s) open. If irritation or pain persists, see a doctor.

Ingestion: Have victim rinse mouth with water. If vomiting occurs naturally, have victim lean forward to reduce risk of aspiration. Have victim rinse mouth with water again. Immediately call a Poison Centre or doctor.

First Aid Comments: All first aid procedures should be periodically reviewed by a doctor familiar with the chemical and its conditions of use in the workplace.


What are fire hazards and extinguishing media for toluene?

Flammable Properties: HIGHLY FLAMMABLE LIQUID. Can ignite at room temperature. Releases vapour that can form explosive mixture with air. Can be ignited by static discharge.

Suitable Extinguishing Media: Carbon dioxide, dry chemical powder, appropriate foam, water spray or fog. Foam manufacturers should be consulted for recommendations regarding types of foams and application rates. Use water to keep non-leaking, fire-exposed containers cool.

Specific Hazards Arising from the Chemical: Liquid can float on water and may travel to distant locations and/or spread fire. Liquid can accumulate static charge by flow, splashing or agitation. Vapour may travel a considerable distance to a source of ignition and flash back to a leak or open container. Vapour may accumulate in hazardous amounts in low-lying areas especially inside confined spaces, resulting in a toxicity hazard. Closed containers may rupture violently when heated releasing contents. In a fire, the following hazardous materials may be generated: very toxic carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide; reactive chemicals; toxic, flammable aldehydes; and other chemicals.


What are the stability and reactivity hazards of toluene?

  • Chemical Stability: Normally stable.
  • Conditions to Avoid: Open flames, sparks, static discharge, heat and other ignition sources.
  • Incompatible Materials: Reacts violently with: nitric acid. Increased risk of fire and explosion on contact with: oxidizing agents (e.g. peroxides). Not corrosive to: aluminum alloys, carbon steel.
  • Hazardous Decomposition Products: Very toxic carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide; reactive chemicals; very toxic, flammable aldehydes; and other chemicals.
  • Possibility of Hazardous Reactions: None known.

What are accidental release measures for toluene?

Personal Precautions: Evacuate the area immediately. Isolate the hazard area. Keep out unnecessary and unprotected personnel. Eliminate all ignition sources. Use grounded, explosion-proof equipment.

Methods for Containment and Clean-up: Stop or reduce leak if safe to do so. Small spills or leaks: contain and soak up spill with absorbent that does not react with spilled product. Large spills or leaks: contact emergency services and manufacturer/supplier for advice.

Other Information: Report spills to local health, safety and environmental authorities, as required.


What handling and storage practices should be used when working with toluene?

Handling: In the event of a spill or leak, exit the area immediately. Eliminate heat and ignition sources such as sparks, open flames, hot surfaces and static discharge. Post "No Smoking" signs. Avoid generating vapours or mists. Electrically bond and ground equipment. Ground clips must contact bare metal. Avoid repeated or prolonged skin contact with product or with contaminated equipment/surfaces.

Storage: Store in an area that is: cool, well-ventilated, out of direct sunlight and away from heat and ignition sources, clear of combustible and flammable materials (e.g. old rags, cardboard), separate from incompatible materials. Keep amount in storage to a minimum. Electrically bond and ground containers. Ground clips must contact bare metal. Avoid bulk storage indoors.


What is the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH®) recommended exposure limit for toluene?

ACGIH®) TLV®) - TWA: 20 ppm A4

Exposure Guideline Comments: TLV®) = Threshold Limit Value. TWA = Time-Weighted Average. A4 = Not classifiable as a human carcinogen.


What are the engineering controls for toluene?

Engineering Controls: Use a local exhaust ventilation and enclosure, if necessary, to control amount in the air. For large scale use of this product: use non-sparking ventilation systems, approved explosion-proof equipment and intrinsically safe electrical systems in areas where this product is used and stored. Control static electricity discharges which includes bonding of equipment to ground.


What Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is needed when working with toluene?

Eye/Face Protection: Wear chemical safety goggles and face shield when contact is possible.

Skin Protection: Wear chemical protective clothing e.g. gloves, aprons, boots. Suitable materials include: polyvinyl alcohol, Viton®), Barrier®) (PE/PA/PE), Silver Shield/4H®) (PE/EVAL/PE), Tychem®) Responder, Trellchem®) HPS, Trellchem®) VPS, Tychem®) BR/LV, Tychem®) TK.

The following materials should NOT be used: butyl rubber, natural rubber, neoprene rubber, nitrile rubber, polyethylene, polyvinyl chloride, Tychem® SL (Saranex™).

Respiratory Protection: Up to 500 ppm: wear a NIOSH approved air-purifying respirator with an organic vapour cartridge, or, wear a powered air-purifying respirator with an appropriate cartridge, or, wear a NIOSH approved self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) or supplied air respirator.

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Document last updated on February 20, 2013

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