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Chemical Fact Sheet

Chemical Abstract Number (CAS #) 65850
CASRN 65-85-0
SynonymsBenzoic acid
Benzenecarboxylic acid
Phenylformic acid
Analytical Method EPA Method 8270
Molecular FormulaC7H6O2

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

Use PRESERVING FOODS, FATS, FRUIT JUICES, ALKALOIDAL SOLN; MFR BENZOATES & BENZOYL COMPOUNDS, DYES; IN CALICO PRINTING; FOR CURING TOBACCO; AS STD IN VOLUMETRIC AND CALORIMETRIC ANALYSIS AS ULTRAVIOLET ABSORBER IN PLASTICS CHEMICAL INT IN SYNTH OF SODIUM BENZOATE AND BUTYL BENZOATE Plasticizers, benzoyl chloride; alkyd resins; food preservative; seasoning tobacco; flavors; perfumes; dentifrices; standard in analytical chemistry; antifungal agent Production of phenol and caprolactam Temporary plugging in subterranean formations in oil production Corrosion inhibitor PLANT GROWTH REGULATOR IN INFECTIONS OF HEAVILY KERATINIZED AREAS, ESPECIALLY SOLES OF FEET, BENZOIC AND SALICYLIC ACID OINTMENT (WHITFIELD'S OINTMENT) MAY BE USEFUL TO REMOVE HEAVY LAYERS OF KERATIN AND THUS PERMIT PENETRATION OF MORE POTENT ANTIFUNGAL DRUGS. BENZOIC ACID, USUALLY IN FORM OF SODIUM SALT, HAS LONG BEEN USED AS ANTIMICROBIAL ADDITIVE IN FOODS. SODIUM SALT PREFERRED BECAUSE OF LOW AQ SOLUBILITY OF FREE ACID. IN USE SALT IS CONVERTED TO ACID, ACTIVE FORM. BENZOIC ACID WAS EFFECTIVE FOR THE PRESERVATION OF ORAL PHARMACEUTICAL LIQUIDS. INHIBITION OF THE GROWTH OF MOLDS WAS USED AS A PARAMETER. BENZOIC ACID WAS THE MOST EFFECTIVE, FOLLOWED BY SORBIC ACID, & ETHYL PARABEN. HAS BEEN USED TO CONTROL BLACK ROT OF PINEAPPLE PHARMACEUTIC AID (ANTIFUNGAL AGENT); VET: HAS BEEN USED WITH SALICYLIC ACID AS TOPICAL ANTIFUNGAL IN CONCN OF 0.1% IT PREVENTS BACTERIAL & FUNGAL GROWTH IN FOOD IF MEDIUM IS SLIGHTLY ACIDIC.
Consumption Patterns 30% FOR SODIUM BENZOATE; 30% FOR PLASTICIZERS; 20% FOR BENZOYL CHLORIDE; 10% FOR BUTYL BENZOATE; 10% FOR MISC APPLICATIONS INCLUDING SYNTHESIS OF DRILLING MUD ADDITIVES, BENZYL BENZOATE, AND METHYL BENZOATE (1972) Phenol, 54%; Plasticizers, 18%; Benzoyl chloride, 13%; Sodium benzoate, 8%; Alkyd resins, 3%; Butyl benzoate, 2%; Other 2%, (1985) CHEMICAL PROFILE: Benzoic Acid. Phenol, 55%; benzoate plasticizers, 22%; sodium and potassium benzoate, 8%; benzoylchloride, 7%; alkylated resins, 3%; others, including butyl benzoate, sucrose benzoate, USP applications and exports, 5%. CHEMICAL PROFILE: Benzoic acid. Demand: 1986: 160 million lb; 1987: 163 million lb; 1991 /projected/: 175 million lb.
Apparent Color Monoclinic tablets, plates, leaflets ; WHITE SCALES OR NEEDLE CRYSTALS
Odor ODORLESS OR WITH A SLIGHT BENZALDEHYDE-LIKE ODOR ; FAINT, PLEASANT ODOR
Boiling Point 249.2 DEG C @ 760 MM HG
Melting Point 122.4 DEG C
Molecular Weight 122.13
Density 1.2659 @ 15 DEG C/4 DEG C
Sensitivity Data Dust irritating to nose and throat if inhaled; solid irritating to skin and eyes. At elevated temp, fumes may cause irritation of eyes, resp system, and skin. Mildly irritating to mucous membranes
Environmental Impact Benzoic acid may be released into the environment as emissions or, more commonly, in wastewater during its production and use as a chemical intermediate and additive. Benzoic acid and sodium benzoate are commonly added to food products as preservatives and as antimicrobial agents. Formed in combustion processes, benzoic acid is found in automobile exhaust, refuse combustion, and tobacco smoke. Benzoic acid is also widely distributed in nature and naturally occurs in food such as berries. If released on land, benzoic acid should leach into the ground due to its low soil adsorption and biodegrade (half-life <1 wk). If released in water, benzoic acid should also readily biodegrade (half-life 0.2-3.6 days). Adsorption to sediment and volatilization should not be significant. While bioconcentration in fish and algae is not important, there is some evidence that bioconcentration in aquatic species like daphnia and snails may be considerable. In the atmosphere, benzoic acid will be largely associated with aerosols, be subject to gravitational settling, and be scavenged by rain. The general population will be exposed through ingestion of food containing benzoic acid either naturally or as an additive. Occupational exposure should be primarily through dermal contact or inhalation of aerosols containing the chemical.
Environmental Fate TERRESTRIAL FATE: If released on land, benzoic acid will leach into the ground and biodegrade (half-life <1 wk). After application of contaminated municipal sludge on land in Muskegon County, MI and tilling to 15 cm, the soil contained 461 ppb of benzoic acid. The chemical had disappeared from this layer of soil and the next lower 15 cm within 216 days, when it was next analyzed . After deep well injection with other wastes from a dimethyl terphthalate plant, benzoic acid, which had averaged 54 ppm in the injected waste, appeared only in trace quantities in monitoring wells 427-823 m away . The degradation of the acid in the 2-4 yr residence may have resulted from biodegradation or reaction with subsurface material or other waste components . AQUATIC FATE: If released in water benzoic acid should readily biodegrade (half-life 0.2-3.6 days). Adsorption to sediment or volatilization should not be important fate processes. Benzoic acid was found to be readily degraded in a model ecosystem in which the measure of degradability, the biodegradability index (polar metabolites/nonpolar metabolites) was 2.97(1,2). ATMOSPHERIC FATE: In the atmosphere, benzoic acid will be largely associated with aerosols, be subject to gravitational settling and be scavenged by rain. It may photolyze when associated with material such as sand that catalyse this process. The free vapor reacts with photochemically produced hydroxyl radicals with an estimated half-life of 2.0 days.
Drinking Water Impact DRINKING WATER: In a five city survey of drinking water, 15 ppm benzoic acid was found in the tap water of Otumwa, IA but not in that of Miami, Seattle, Philadelphia, or Cincinnati . Another study found it in water from the Torresdale water treatment plant in Philadelphia . Benzoic acid was detected, but not quantified, in treated drinking water in England whose source was a lowland river containing relatively high levels of wastewater . SURFACE WATER: Benzoic acid was detected, but not quantified, in a Norwegian river downstream from an industrial treatment facility . GROUND WATER: 16-860 ppb of benzoic acid were found in 2 aquifers at the Hoe Creek underground coal gasification site 15 mo after gasification was completed . Concns of benzoic acid in the plumes in shallow, sandy aquifers emanating from landfills in Ontario were 17->1000 ppb in one aquifer and ND to 8.8 ppb in another . The concn in background monitoring wells was at trace levels (<0.1 ppb) in the first aquifer and was not determined in the second . Two wells monitoring near-surface groundwater adjacent to an unlined surface impoundment at a wood-preserving facility at Pensacola, FL contained 3.1 and 27.5 ppm of benzoic acid while wells 150 m away contained 0-0.01 ppm of the chemical . It is believed that the benzoic acid was rendered from the wood during treatment or was a degradation product of creosote solutes . Benzoic acid was found in groundwater in Australia underlying an area where acid wastes from a manufacturing process of a chemical company was stored in unlined ponds . Since the chemical was only found in the aquifer downgradient from the believed source of pollution and not closer to this source, it was either formed by bacterial action or came from another source . RAIN/SNOW: Benzoic acid was found in the particulate fraction of four samples of rain and snow in Norway . While no concns were indicated, the size of the gas chromatography peaks ranged widely in size . EFFL: 0.003 mg/l in primary domestic sewage plant effluent In a comprehensive survey of wastewater from 4000 industrial and publicly owned treatment works (POTWs) sponsored by the Effluent Guidelines Division of the U.S. EPA, benzoic acid was identified in discharges of the following industrial category (frequency of occurrence; median concn in ppb): timber products (15; 57.7), leather tanning (7; 89.6), iron and steel mfg (7; 33.4), petroleum refining (1; 503.3), nonferrous metals (19; 62.5), paint and ink (36; 162.1), printing and publishing (18; 228.9), ore mining (13; 32.6), organics and plastics (35; 669.9), inorganic chemicals (9; 56.6), textile mills (12; 46.9), plastics and synthetics (16; 36.2), pulp and paper (49; 133.3), rubber processing (6; 223.3), soaps and detergents (2; 148.3), auto and other laundries (13; 127.8), pesticides manufacture (7; 44.3), photographic industries (2; 69.7), pharmaceuticals (15; 121.6), explosives (4; 20.8), foundries (19; 61.4), porcelain/enameling (4; 176.5), electronics (19; 80.3), electoplating (1; 2.8), oil and gas extraction (24; 23.8), organic chemicals (16; 241.3), mechanical products (34; 104.2), transportation equipment (6; 163.5), synfuels (24; 96.3), publicly owned treatment works (84; 35.9), rum industry (1; 405.3) . The highest effluent concn was 72,124 ppb in the pesticides mfg industry. The paint and ink, and organics and plastics industries also had maximum effluents exceeding 10,000 ppb . Benzoic acid appeared in the process exhaust from a phthalic anhydride manufacturing plant without pollution abatement equipment at concn ranging from 5-40 ppm (v/v) . It has been reported in the exhaust gas from diesel powered vehicles and the concn in the exhaust from a 1982 Toyota Corolla was 0.164 ppb . Extracts of 5 incinerator effluents contained 6-3500 ppm of benzoic acid . Effluent from the Los Angeles County wastewater treatment plant contained 400 ppb of benzoic acid . It was detected, but not quantified, in the effluent of the publicly owned treatment works in Addison, IL that accepts waste from over 300 manufacturing and industrial firms, but not in 9 other treatment facilites sampled in the state(6). Leachate from a sanitary landfill contained benzoic acid but it was not quantified . Benzoic acid occurred at concn levels of 1-50 ppm in settling basins and other standing water at the Valley of the Drums waste site in Bullitt County, KY . It was a component of spent bleach liquor from a softwood kraft pulp plant and averaged 54 ppm in effluent from a dimethyl terphthalate plant near Wilmington, NC that was disposed of by deep well injection .

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