|Chemical Abstract Number (CAS #)||
|Synonyms||Methyl ethyl ketone||2-Butanone||MEK
||EPA Method 524.2||EPA Method 8015
||EPA Method 8260
Link to the National Library of Medicine's Hazardous Substances
Database for more details
on this compound.
|Use|| AS SOLVENT; IN THE SURFACE COATING INDUSTRY; MFR OF COLORLESS
SYNTHETIC RESINS, SMOKELESS POWDER
IN FABRIC COATING; IN ARTIFICIAL LEATHER MFR; IN LACQUER & VARNISH
INDUSTRY; IN PHARMACEUTICALS & COSMETICS; IN SYNTHETIC RUBBER MFR;
IN PRODUCTION OF LUBRICATING OILS
PAINT REMOVERS; CEMENTS & ADHESIVES; ORG SYNTHESIS; IN CLEANING
SOLVENT FOR COATINGS-ESP VINYL, NITROCELLULOSE & ACRYLIC
SOLVENT FOR ADHESIVES & MAGNETIC TAPES
EXTRACTION SOLVENT FOR LUBE OIL DEWAXING, AZEOTROPIC SEPN
SOLVENT FOR PRINTING INKS & IN CLEANING SOLNS
EXTRACTION SOLVENT FOR HARDWOOD PULPING & VEGETABLE OIL
OXIDN PROMOTER IN MFR OF TEREPHTHALIC ACID FROM P-XYLENE
SOLVENT & COSOLVENT IN PESTICIDE FORMULATIONS
FRAGRANCE & FLAVORING AGENT-EG, FOR CANDY & IN PERFUMES (Former uses)
CATALYST IN THE PRODN OF HYDRAZINE (NON-USA USE)
Used as a sterilizer for bacterial spores on surgical instruments, hypodermic needles/syringe, and
Solvent required for the polymerization processing of polystyrene,
acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene, and styrene-butadiene-rubber.
|Consumption Patterns|| SOLVENT FOR VINYL COATINGS, 30%; SOLVENT FOR ADHESIVES, 18%;
SOLVENT FOR NITROCELLULOSE COATINGS, 13%; SOLVENT FOR ACRYLIC
COATINGS, 11%; SOLVENT FOR OTHER COATINGS, 7%; SOLVENT FOR MAGNETIC
TAPES, 7%; EXTRACTION SOLVENT FOR LUBE OIL DEWAXING, 5%; SOLVENT FOR
PRINTING INKS, 5%; OTHER, 4% (1981)
The demand for methyl ethyl ketone was 3.0X10 11 g in 1978, 3.7X10 11 g in 1979 and
projected to be 3.6X10 11 g in 1983 (production plus imports)
Projected growth figure through 1983 is 4%. Production of industrial coatings was 3.8% higher in
1978 than year before. Paint and varnish sales grew 13.6% during the same period.
CHEMICAL PROFILE: Methyl Ethyl Ketone. Coatings solvent, 50%; adhesives, 13%; magnetic
tapes, 8%; lube oil dewaxing, 4%; printing inks, 3%; miscellaneous, 6%; exports, 16%.
CHEMICAL PROFILE: Methyl ethyl ketone. Demand: 1986: 582 million lb; 1987: 600 million
lb; 1991 projected/: 600 million lb (Includes exports; in addition, 52 million lb were imported in
|Apparent Color|| COLORLESS LIQUID
|Odor|| ACETONE-LIKE ODOR ; Sweet, pleasant, pungent
|Boiling Point|| 79.6 DEG C
|Melting Point|| -86.3 DEG C
|Molecular Weight|| 72.10
|Density|| 0.805 AT 20 DEG C/4 DEG C
|Odor Threshold Concentration|| Odor low= 0.7375 mg/cu m; Odor high= 147.5 mg/cu m.
Detection limit in water: 5.00x10 1 ppm (purity not specified)
Recognition in air: 1.00x10 1 ppm (chemically pure)
Detection limit in air: 2.00x10 1 ppm (purity not specified)
Recognition in air: 5.50x10 1 ppm (purity not specified)
|Sensitivity Data|| High atm concn are irritating to the eyes, nose, and throat .
Vapor is irritating to human mucous membranes and conjuntivae @ 200 ppm after 15 min .
|Environmental Impact|| Large quantities of methyl ethyl ketone (MEK) are used as a solvent especially in the
coatings industry. MEK will be discharged into the atmosphere from this and other industrial uses.
It will also be discharged in waste water. In addition, high atmospheric MEK levels are associated
with photochemical smog episodes although it is generally absent from ambient air. It is formed as
a result of the natural photooxidation of olefinic hydrocarbons which get in the air from
automobiles, etc. When discharged into water, MEK will be lost by evaporation (half-life 3-12
days) or be slowly biodegraded. When released to the atmosphere, it will photodegrade at a
moderate rate (half-life 2.3 days or less). MEK would not be expected to bioconcentrate into
aquatic organisms. Major human exposure is from occupational atmospheres or ambient air in the
vicinity of industrial sources or during photochemical smog episodes. Although there is limited
data, MEK is a natural component of some foods so ingestion is also a source of exposure.
|Environmental Fate|| TERRESTRIAL FATE: When spilled on land, methyl ethyl ketone will partially evaporate
into the atmosphere and partially leach into the ground. Its degradation in soil is unknown.
AQUATIC FATE: When released into water, methyl ethyl ketone will evaporate into the
atmosphere with expected half-lives of 3 and 12 days in rivers and lakes, respectively. It will also
biodegrade slowly in both fresh and salt water. No information is available concerning its fate in
groundwater but biodegradability studies in anerobic systems suggest that it may degrade slowly
after a long acclimation period. Adsorption to sediment will not be a significant loss
ATMOSPHERIC FATE: When released into the atmosphere, methyl ethyl ketone (MEK) will
degrade principally by reaction with photochemically produced hydroxyl radicals (half-life 2.3
days). Under photochemical smog situations, degradation may be slightly faster.
|Drinking Water Impact|| DRINKING WATER: In a Federal survey of groundwater supplies, < 5% occurrence .
Detected, not quantified in drinking water supplies from 7 cities from varied sources and with
different types of pollutant sources(2-4). SURFACE WATER: 14 heavily industrialized river
basins in USA - 1 of 204 sites pos, 23 ppb ; Detected, not quantified in Black Warrior River in
Tuscaloosa, AL(6). Straight of Florida and Eastern Mediterranean Sea 7-16 ppb(9). RAIN ETC:
Detected in rain in Japan(7) but not at 5 sites in California(8). In clouds in California 0-0.47 ppm
and in fog or ice fog 0-trace(8).
EFFL: Wastewater going into brackish USA river 8-20 ppm . Detected in trench leachate from
2 low-level radioactive disposal sites . Gasoline engine exhaust <0.1-1.0 ppm ; Cigarette
smoke 50 ppm(3,4).