Methyl Alcohol (Methanol)
CAS No. 67-56-1
Methyl alcohol (CH3OH) is a colorless liquid with a strong odor. It is a poisonous substance that can be absorbed through the eyes, skin, lungs, and digestive system. Overexposure can cause death. Workers may be harmed by exposure to methyl alcohol. The level of harm depends upon the dose, duration, and work being done.
Methyl alcohol is used in many industries. It is used in solvents, deicers, and the manufacturing of plastics, polyesters, and other chemicals. Some examples of workers at risk of being exposed to methyl alcohol include the following:
- Factory workers in plants that manufacture plastics
- Transportation workers exposed to the deicing of vehicles
- Workers who work in alternative fuel industries
- Workers exposed to certain solvents or cleaning agents
NIOSH recommends that employers use Hierarchy of Controls to prevent injuries. If you work in an industry that uses methyl alcohol, please read chemical labels and the accompanying Safety Data Sheet for hazard information. Visit NIOSH’s page on Managing Chemical Safety in the Workplace to learn more about controlling chemical workplace exposures.
The following resources provide information about occupational exposure to methyl alcohol. Useful search terms for methyl alcohol include “methanol,” “carbinol,” “columbian spirits,” “pyroligneous spirits,” “wood alcohol,” “wood naphtha,” and “wood spirits.”
NIOSH Chemical Resources
The NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards (NPG) helps workers, employers, and occupational health professionals recognize and control workplace chemical hazards.
The NIOSH Manual of Analytical Methods (NMAM) is a collection of methods for sampling and analysis of contaminants in workplace air, and in the blood and urine of workers who are occupationally exposed.
Related NIOSH Resources
- NIOSHTIC-2 search results on methyl alcohol—NIOSHTIC-2 is a searchable database of worker safety and health publications, documents, grant reports, and journal articles supported in whole or in part by NIOSH.
- NIOSH Worker Health Study Summaries—NIOSH conducts research to prevent illnesses and injuries in the workplace. The NIOSH Worker Notification Program notifies workers and other stakeholders about the findings of these research studies.
- Emergency Response Safety and Health Database (ERSH-DB) Systemic Agent: Methanol—ERSH-DB search results for methanol.
- Criteria for a Recommended Standard: Occupational Exposure to Methyl Alcohol—DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 76-148. Presents a standard to prevent the adverse effects of exposure to methyl alcohol over a working lifetime.
- Occupational Safety and Health Guideline for Methyl Alcohol
- EPA Acute Exposure Guideline Levels (AEGLs): Methanolexternal icon
- EPA Hazard Summary: Methanolpdf iconexternal icon
- EPA OPPT Chemical Fact Sheet: Methanolexternal icon
- EPA Chemistry Dashboard: Methanolexternal icon
- EPA Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS): Methanolexternal icon
- OSHA Hazard Communicationexternal icon
- OSHA PEL Project: Methyl Alcohol
- OSHA Sampling Information: Methyl Alcoholexternal icon
- NLM Medline Plus: Methanol Poisoningexternal icon
- NLM TOXNET: Methanolexternal icon
- NTP-CERHR Monograph (Reproductive Hazards): Methanolexternal icon
- New Jersey Hazardous Substance Fact Sheets: Methyl Alcoholexternal icon
- European Chemicals Agency (ECHA): Methanolexternal icon
- Gestis Substance Databaseexternal icon
- International Chemical Safety Card: Methanolexternal icon
- IPCS INCHEM 335: Methanolexternal icon
- IPCS INCHEM Healthy and Safety Guide 105: Methanolexternal icon
- IPCS INCHEM Environmental Health Criteria 196: Methanolexternal icon
- OECD Global Portal to Information on Chemical Substancesexternal icon