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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.”

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