Methyl alcohol

May 1994
Immediately Dangerous to Life or Health Concentrations (IDLH)

CAS number: 67–56–1

NIOSH REL: 200 ppm (260 mg/m3) TWA, 250 ppm (325 mg/m3) STEL [skin]

Current OSHA PEL: 200 ppm (260 mg/m3) TWA

1989 OSHA PEL: 200 ppm (260 mg/m3) TWA, 250 ppm (325 mg/m3) STEL [skin]

1993-1994 ACGIH TLV: 200 ppm (262 mg/m3) TWA, 250 ppm (328 mg/m3) STEL [skin]

Description of substance: Colorless liquid with a characteristic pungent odor.

LEL: . . . 6.0% (10% LEL, 6,000 ppm)

Original (SCP) IDLH: 25,000 ppm

Basis for original (SCP) IDLH: The chosen IDLH is based on the statement by Patty [1963] that it probably would be dangerous for men to be exposed to the vapors of methyl alcohol in concentrations of the order of 30,000 to 50,000 ppm for as much as 30 to 60 minutes.

Existing short-term exposure guidelines: National Research Council [NRC 1985] Emergency Exposure Guidance Levels (EEGLs):

10-min EEGL: 800 ppm

30-min EEGL: 400 ppm

1-hour EEGL: 200 ppm

24-hour EEGL: 10 ppm


Lethal concentration data:

Species Reference LC50(ppm) LCLo(ppm) Time Adjusted 0.5-hrLC (CF) Derived value
Cat Flury & Wirth 1933 —– 33,082 6 hr 76,090 ppm (2.3) 7,609 ppm
Mouse Izmerov et al. 1982 —– 37,594 2 hr 60,150 ppm (1.6) 6,015 ppm
Rat NPIRI 1974 64,000 —– 4 hr 128,000 ppm (2.0) 12,800 ppm

Lethal dose data:

Species Reference Route LD50(mg/kg) LDLo(mg/kg) Adjusted LD Derived value
Rat Larionov & Broitman 1975 oral 5,628 —– 29,621 ppm 2,962 ppm
Mouse Smith & Taylor 1982 oral 7,300 —– 38,421 ppm 3,842 ppm
Rat Smyth et al. 1941 oral 12,880 —– 67,789 ppm 6,779 ppm
Rabbit WHO 1970 oral 14,200 —– 74,737 ppm 7,474 ppm

Other animal data: RD50 (mouse), 41,514 ppm [Alarie 1981].

Human data: Two human studies showed no effects at vapor concentrations ranging from 160 to 1,000 ppm [McAllister 1954; MDOH 1937]. It has been stated that it probably would be dangerous to be exposed to concentrations of the order of 30,000 to 50,000 ppm for as much as 30 to 60 minutes [Patty 1963]. It has been reported that the lethal oral dose is between 143 and 6,422 mg/kg [Arena 1970; Deichmann and Gerarde 1969; Handa 1983]. [Note: An oral dose of 143 to 6,422 mg/kg is equivalent to a 70-kg worker being exposed to about 7,000 to 225,000 ppm for 30 minutes, assuming a breathing rate of 50 liters per minute and 100% absorption.]


1. Alarie Y [1981]. Dose-response analysis in animal studies: prediction of human responses. Environ Health Perspect 42:9-13.

2. Arena JM [1970]. Poisoning; toxicology, symptoms, treatments. 2nd ed. Springfield, IL: C.C. Thomas, p. 73.

3. Deichmann WB, Gerarde HW [1969]. Methyl alcohol (methanol; methyl hydroxide; methyl hydrate; Columbian spirits; wood naphtha; wood spirits; wood alcohol; sterno; carbinols; colonial spirits). In: Toxicology of drugs and chemicals. New York, NY: Academic Press, Inc., pp. 383-385.

4. Flury F, Wirth W [1933]. Zur toxikologie der lösungsmittel (Verschieden ester, aceton, methylalkohol). Arch Gewerbepath Gewerbehyg 5:1-90 (in German).

5. Handa SP [1983]. Methanol intoxication. [Letter to editor.] Can Med Assoc J 128:14-15.

6. Izmerov NF, Sanotsky IV, Sidorov KK [1982]. Toxicometric parameters of industrial toxic chemicals under single exposure. Moscow, Russia: Centre of International Projects, GKNT, p. 80.

7. Larionov AG, Broitman AJ [1975]. On the combined action of 2,6-dimethylphenol and methanol. Gig Tr Prof Zabol 19(11):27-30 (in Russian).

8. McAllister RG [1954]. Exposure to methanol from spirit duplicating machines. Am Ind Hyg Assoc Q 15:26-28.

9. MDOH [1937]. Health hazards of wood heel covering. Boston, MA: Massachusetts Division of Occupational Hygiene.

10. NPIRI [1974]. Raw materials data handbook, physical and chemical properties, fire hazard and health hazard data. Vol. 1. Organic solvents. Bethlehem, PA: National Printing Ink Research Institute, p. 74.

11. NRC [1985]. Emergency and continuous exposure guidance levels for selected airborne contaminants. Vol. 4. Washington, DC: National Academy Press, Committee on Toxicology, Board on Toxicology and Environmental Health Hazards, Commission on Life Sciences, National Research Council, pp. 69-81.

12. Patty FA, ed. [1963]. Industrial hygiene and toxicology. 2nd rev. ed. Vol. II. Toxicology. New York, NY: Interscience Publishers, Inc., p. 1414.

13. Smith EN, Taylor RT [1982]. Acute toxicity of methanol in the folate-deficient Acatalasemic mouse. Toxicology 25:271-287.

14. Smyth HF Jr, Seaton J, Fischer L [1941]. The single dose toxicity of some glycols and derivatives. J Ind Hyg Toxicol 23:259-268.

15. WHO [1970]. Methyl alcohol: biological data. In: Toxicological evaluation of some extraction solvents and certain other substances. Food and Agriculture Organization Nutrition Meetings Report Series 48A. Geneva, Switzerland: United Nations, World Health Organization, p. 105.

Page last reviewed: December 4, 2014