Chemical Fact Sheet

Chemical Abstract Number (CAS #) 67561
CASRN 67-56-1
Methyl alcohol
Analytical Method EPA Method 8260
Molecular FormulaCH4O

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

Use INDUSTRIAL SOLVENT; RAW MATERIAL FOR FORMALDEHYDE, METHYL ESTERS, ORG & INORG ACIDS, ANTIFREEZE, FUEL; EXTRACTANT FOR ANIMAL & VEGETABLE OILS; TO DENATURE ETHANOL; MFR PHARMACEUTICALS; SOLVENT IN MFR OF STREPTOMYCIN, VITAMINS, HORMONES, POLYMERS, PLASTICS. Used in dehydrating pipelines, as a de-icing agent, and in the production of methylamines and chlorine dioxide. PRIMARILY AS SUBSTITUTE SOLVENT & RUBEFACIENT FOR ETHYL ALCOHOL IN LINIMENTS (EXTERNAL USE ONLY). Used on household contents, mortuary instruments, bedding (human), human clothing, tissues (biological specimens), cadavers, and human stools against animal pathogenic bacteria (gram- and gram vegetative) and maggots. Eureka Products, Criosine Used in oil recovery packer fluid against slime forming bacteria, deterioration and spoilage bacteria, sulfate-reducing bacteria. Coat-B1400 Used on onions during soil treatment against onion smut (urocystis cepulae). Wilbur-Ellis Smut-Guard Used on elms as injection treatment against dutch elm disease. Freers Elm Arrester Used in secondary oil recovery injection water against slime forming bacteria. Surflo-B17 Used on timbers, wood fence posts, wood poles/posts, timbers (heavy wooden members), and lumber (seasoned) for soil contact nonfumigation treatment against wood rot and decay fungi. /Ideal Concentrated Wood-Preservative Duplicating fluid (99% methyl alcohol) used in direct-process spirit duplicating machines Effective solvent for the removal of 2,4-dinitrotoluene from spent carbons Removal of toxic organic pollutants from soil with supercritical carbon dioxide and methanol or toluene.
Consumption Patterns 39% FOR FORMALDEHYDE; 12% EXPORTED; 8% FOR SOLVENT USAGE; 6% FOR DIMETHYL TEREPHTHALATE; 6% FOR METHYL HALIDES; 4% FOR METHYL METHACRYLATE; 3% FOR ACETIC ACID; 3% FOR METHYLAMINES; 1% FOR FORMALDEHYDE INHIBITOR; 17% MISC (1973) CHEMICAL PROFILE: Methanol. Formaldehyde, 27%; MTBE methyl tert-butyl ether/, 25%; acetic acid, 11%; chloromethanes, 7%; solvents, 8%; methyl halides, 4%; methyl methacrylates, 4%; methylamines, 3%; methylene chloride, 2%; utility power, 1%; miscellaneous and exports, 2%. CHEMICAL PROFILE: Methanol. Demand: 1985: 1.29 billion gallons; 1986: 1.35 billion gallons; 1990 projected/: 1.6 billion gallons. CHEMICAL PROFILE: Methanol. Formaldehyde, 27%; MTBE methyl tert-butyl ether/, 26%; acetic acid, 11%; chloromethanes, 7%; solvents, 7%; methyl halides, 4%; methylmethacrylates, 4%; methylamines, 3%; methylene chloride, 2%; miscellaneous and exports, 9%. CHEMICAL PROFILE: Methanol. Demand: 1988: 1.8 billion gallons; 1989: 1.6 billion gallons; 1993 projected/: 2.2 billion gallons. (Includes imports, which totaled 690 million gallons last year, as well as export shipments, which are negligible, totaling 36 million gallons last year.)
Apparent Color Colorless liquid
Boiling Point 64.7 DEG C @ 760 MM HG
Melting Point -97.8 DEG C
Molecular Weight 32.04
Density 0.8100 @ 0 DEG C/4 DEG C
Odor Threshold Concentration METHYL ALCOHOL DOES NOT HAVE SUITABLE WARNING ODOR PROPERTIES EXCEPT @ HIGH CONCN. A LEVEL OF 2,000 PPM IS BARELY DETECTABLE BY ODOR. Low threshold= 13.1150 mg/cu m; High threshold= 26840 mg/cu m; Irritating concn= 22875 mg/cu m.
Sensitivity Data Methanol is a skin and eye irritant.
Environmental Impact Methanol has been identified as a natural emission product from various plants and as a biological decomposition product of biological wastes and sewage. The largest anthropogenic source of methanol release to the environment is evaporation from solvent uses (1.1 billion lb/yr). If released to the atmosphere, methanol degrades via reaction with photochemically produced hydroxyl radicals with an approximate half-life of 17.8 days. Physical removal from air can occur via rainfall. If released to water, decomposition via biodegradation is expected to occur. If released to soil, methanol is expected to degrade via biodegradation and be susceptible to significant leaching. Relatively rapid evaporation from dry surfaces is likely to occur. Occupational and general exposure occurs through inhalation and dermal contact. Exposure also occurs through consumption of various foods and waters.
Environmental Fate TERRESTRIAL FATE: Methanol is expected to be biodegradable in soil based on the results of a large number of biological screening studies, which include soil microcosm studies. Its miscibility in water and log Kow (-0.77) suggest high mobility in soil. Based on a vapor pressure of 92 mm Hg at 20 deg C , evaporation from dry surfaces can be expected to occur. AQUATIC FATE: The important environmental fate process for methanol in water is biodegradation. A large number of screening studies have found methanol to be significantly biodegradable. Volatilization half-lifes of 4.8 days and 51.7 days have been estimated for a model river (1 m deep) and an environmental pond, respectively. Aquatic hydrolysis, oxidation, photolysis, adsorption to sediment, and bioconcentration are not significant. ATMOSPHERIC FATE: Methanol is expected to exist almost entirely in the vapor-phase in the ambient atmosphere, based on a vapor pressure of 92 mm Hg at 20 deg C(1,2,SRC). It is degraded by reaction with photochemically produced hydroxyl radicals with an estimated half-life of 17.8 days in a typical ambient atmosphere. Atmospheric methanol can also react with nitrogen dioxide in polluted air to yield methyl nitrite. Because of methanol's water solubility, rain would be expected to physically remove some from the air ; the detection of methanol in a thunderstorm water tends to confirm this supposition.
Drinking Water Impact DRINKING WATER: Methanol has been qualitatively detected in drinking water from Miami, FL, Seattle, WA, Philadelphia, PA, Cincinnati, OH, and New Orleans, LA(1,2). As part of the USEPA National Organics Reconnaissance Survey (NORS), methanol was detected in 6 of 10 drinking waters from USA cities . RAIN WATER: Methanol was detected at a mean level of 22 ppb in thunderstorm water collected from Santa Rita, AZ in Sept, 1982 . EFFL: Methanol levels of 18-70 ppm were detected in wastewater effluents from a chemical mfg facility (near the Brackish River), but none was detected in associated river water or sediments . Methanol has been identified in wastewater effluents from chemical, paper, and latex manufacturing plants and from sewage treatment plants . Concn of 42.4 ppm detected in leachate from the Love Canal in Niagara Falls, NY . Concn of 1050 ppm detected in condensate waters from a coal-gasification plant . Levels of 0.1-0.6 ppm were found in exhausts from engines using simple hydrocarbon fuels . Methanol has been identified in exhausts from both gasoline and diesel engines(6).

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