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Chemical Fact Sheet

Chemical Abstract Number (CAS #) 108883
CASRN 108-88-3
SynonymsToluene
Benzene, methyl
Toluol
Methylbenzene
Phenylmethane
Methacide
Analytical Methods EPA Method 502.2
EPA Method 503.1
EPA Method 524.2
EPA Method 602
EPA Method 624
EPA Method 8021
EPA Method 8260
Molecular FormulaC7H8

Link to the National Library of Medicine's Hazardous Substances
Database for more details on this compound.

Use In manufacture benzoic acid, benzaldehyde, explosives, dyes, and many other organic compounds; as a solvent for paints, lacquers, gums, resins, in the extraction of various principles from plants; as gasoline additive. DILUENT FOR PHOTOGRAVURE INKS IN FABRIC & PAPER COATING, MFR ARTIFICIAL LEATHER Used in cements, solvents, spot removers, cosmetics, antifreezes, and inks. Asphalt and naphtha constituent. Detergent manufacture. Mfg caprolactam, saccharin, medicines, and perfumes; diluent and thinner in nitrocellulose lacquers, adhesive solvent in plastic toys and model airplanes. Fuel blending DENATURANT The largest chemical use for toluene is the production of benzene and urethane via hydrodealkylation.
Consumption Patterns CHEM INT FOR BENZENE, 55.3%; SOLVENT, 25.7%; CHEM INT FOR TOLUENE DIISOCYANATE, 7.3%; CHEM INT FOR BENZOIC ACID, 2.5%; CHEM INT FOR BENZYL CHLORIDE, 1.5%; OTHER, 7.7% (1981 NON-GASOLINE USE) Benzene, 46%; gasoline blending, 37%; solvent, 8%; toluene diisocyanate, 7%; miscellaneous chemicals, 2% (1985) estimate
Apparent Color Colorless liquid
Odor SWEET, PUNGENT, BENZENE-LIKE ODOR
Boiling Point 111 Deg C @ 760 MM HG
Melting Point -95 DEG C
Molecular Weight 92.13
Density 0.8661 @ 20 DEG C/4 DEG C
Odor Threshold Concentration 2.14 ppm (8 mg/cu m). Odor recognition level is reported as 1.03 to 140 ug/cu m. Odor in air= 1.30x10 11 mol/cu cm
Environmental Impact Toluene is released into the atmosphere principally from the volatilization of petroleum fuels and toluene-based solvents and thinners and from motor vehicle exhaust. Considerable amounts are discharged into waterways or spilled on land during the storage, transport and disposal of fuels and oils. If toluene is released to soil, it will be lost by evaporation from near-surface soil and by leaching to the groundwater. Biodegradation occurs both in soil and groundwater, but it is apt to be slow especially at high concentrations, which may be toxic to microorganisms. The presence of acclimated microbial populations may allow rapid biodegradation. It will not significantly hydrolyze in soil or water under normal environmental conditions. If toluene is released into water, its concn will decrease due to evaporation and biodegradation. This removal can be rapid or take several weeks, depending on temperature, mixing conditions, and acclimation of microorganisms. It will not significantly adsorb to sediment or bioconcentrate in aquatic organisms. If toluene is released to the atmosphere, it will degrade by reaction with photochemically produced hydroxyl radicals (half-life 3 hr to slightly over 1 day) or be washed out in rain. It will not be subject to direct photolysis. The primary source of human exposure is from inhalation of contaminated ambient air, especially in traffic or near filling stations, or in occupational atmospheres where toluene-based solvents are used.
Environmental Fate TERRESTRIAL FATE: If toluene is released to soil, it will be lost by evaporation from near surface soil and microbial degradation. In one study, 94% of the chemical added to a clay loam was lost by these processes . Since it is relatively mobile in soil, it is possible that it will get into the groundwater and remain there where microbial degradation will not occur. AQUATIC FATE: When released into water, toluene will be lost by both volatilization to the atmosphere and biodegradation. The predominant process will depend on water temperature, mixing conditions and the existence of acclimated microorganisms at the site. The half-life will range from days to several weeks. It will not significantly hydrolyze, directly photolyze, adsorb to sediment or bioconcentrate in aquatic organisms. ATMOSPHERIC FATE: If toluene is released to the atmosphere, it will exist predominatly in the vapor phase . It degrades moderately rapidly by reaction with photochemically produced hydroxyl radicals. Its half-life ranges from 3 hrs to somewhat over a day(3,4). It is very effectively washed out by rain(1,2). It will not be subject to direct photolysis in sunlight, although a complex of toluene with molecular oxygen has been shown to absorb light at wavelengths >290 nm(6).
Drinking Water Impact DRINKING WATER: 30 Canadian treatment facilities, 2 ppb avg, 14 ppb max, 33% pos in summer; <1 ppb avg, 13 ppb max, 53% pos in winter . 12 Great Lakes municipalities 0-2 ppb, 5 cities' supplies pos . 17 USA drinking waters <1 parts/trillion, 14 pos . In a federal survey of finished drinking water from groundwater sources <5% occurrence . 3 New Orleans area water supplies 0-10 ppb . National Organics Reconnaissance Survey 60% occurrence(6). Max concn in tapwater derived from bank-filtered Rhine R water 1 ppb(7). Three contaminated drinking water wells in New Jersey and 55, 260, 6400 ppb whereas the highest concn in in drinking water from surface water sources in 6.1 ppb(8). Groundwater supply in England 210 m from gasoline storage 0.15 ppb(9). In 3 federal surveys of finished surface waters toluene was found in 19% of the samples(10). In a 5-city survey in which the water supplies came from different types of sources with various sources of pollution, 2 contained toluene, one 0.1 ppb and the other 0.7 ppb(11). US Ground Water Supply Survey, 1982, 466 randomly selected driving water supplies that used ground water as a source, 1.3% pos, 2.9 ppb max, 0.8 ppb median(12). GROUNDWATER: Groundwater underlying 2 rapid infiltration sites 02 ppb . Groundwater under gasification site - 15 months after gasification performed 170-740 ppb . Contaminated wells from gasoline storage tanks, etc. 0.55-6400 ppb(1,2). In cluster well study under old industrial site mean levels in bedrock wells were 90 ppb while shallow and deep glacial wells were 10 ppb . SURFACE WATER: 14 heavily industrialized river basins in USA (204 sites 1-5 ppb, 15% pos . Detected in various rivers(2,3,4). SEA WATER: Gulf of Mexico 3-376 parts/trillion(1,2). Vineland Sound, MA 10-54 parts/trillion, 27 Mexico 3-376 parts/trillion(1,2). Vineland Sound, MA 10-54 parts/trillion, 27 parts/trillion avg - source - fuel from boats . RAIN WATER: West Los Angeles 76 parts/trillion . 7 rain events, Portland, OR, Feb-Apr 1984, 71.4% pos, concn in rain (parts/trillion) range of pos, 40-220, 88 avg; concn in gas phase (ng/cu m), 1800-8600, 3800 avg . EFFL: Industries in which the mean effluent levels exceed 1000 ppb are: auto and other laundries, iron and steel manufacturing, gum and wood chemicals, pharmaceuticals, organic chemicals/plastics manufacturing, paint and ink formulation. The highest mean value is 52 ppm for pharmaceuticals and the highest maximum values are 230 and 260 ppm for pharmaceuticals and organic chemicals/plastics manufacturing . Plume from General Motors Paint Plant, Janesville, WI 156 ppb . Auto exhaust 196-718 mg/cu m . USEPA STORET database, 1,498 data points, 19.7% pos, 5.0 ppb median concn . MN municipal solid waste landfills, leachates, 6 sites, 100% pos, 7.5-600, 1.5-8300 ppb, contaminated groundwater (by inorganic indices), 13 sites, 46% pos, 7 sites, 14% pos, 3.8 ppb .

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