Methyl Ethyl Ketone
CAS No. 78-93-3
Methyl ethyl ketone (C4H8O or CH3CH3COCH2CH3) is a colorless, flammable liquid with a sharp odor. It can be harmful to the eyes, skin, and if inhaled or swallowed. Workers may be harmed from exposure to methyl ethyl ketone. The level of exposure depends upon the dose, duration, and work being done.
Methyl ethyl ketone is used in many industries. It is used as a solvent and in the manufacture of synthetic rubber, paraffin wax, and to make other chemical products. Some examples of workers at risk of being exposed to methyl ethyl ketone include the following:
- Workers who work in printing plants
- Employees exposed to certain paints, coatings, or glues
- Workers who work in shoe and sporting goods factories
- Manufacturing workers involved in making synthetic rubber products
NIOSH recommends that employers use Hierarchy of Controls to prevent injuries. If you work in an industry that uses methyl ethyl ketone, please read chemical labels and the accompanying Safety Data Sheets 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 ethyl ketone. Useful search terms for methyl ethyl ketone include “2-butanone,” “MEK,” “methyl acetone,” and “methyl ethyl ketone.”
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.
- NIOSHTIC-2 search results on methyl ethyl ketone—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.
- Immediately Dangerous to Life or Health (IDLH) Value Profile: 2-Butanone—NIOSH reviews relevant scientific data and researches methods for developing IDLH values.
- 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.
- Occupational Safety and Health Guidelines for 2-Butanone—Occupational safety and health guidelines that summarizes pertinent information about ethylene glycol for workers, employers, and health professionals.
- Volatile Organic Compounds (Screening) No. 2549—Sampling and measurement data from NMAM, fourth edition
- Methyl Ethyl Ketone No. 2500—Sampling and measurement data from NMAM, fourth edition
- ATSDR ToxFAQs for 2-Butanone
- ATSDR Toxicology Profile for 2-Butanone
- EPA Acute Exposure Guideline Levels (AEGLs) for Methyl Ethyl Ketoneexternal icon
- EPA Chemistry Dashboard: Methyl Ethyl Ketoneexternal icon
- EPA Health Summary: Methyl Ethyl Ketone (2-Butanone)external icon
- EPA Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS): Methyl Ethyl Ketone (MEK)external icon
- NLM TOXNET: Methyl Ethyl Ketoneexternal icon
- OSHA Hazard Communicationexternal icon
- OSHA Limits for Air Contaminantsexternal icon
- OSHA Occupational Chemical Database: 2-Butanoneexternal icon
- New Jersey Hazardous Substance Fact Sheets: Methyl Ethyl Ketoneexternal icon
- Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) Fact Sheet: Methyl Ethyl Ketoneexternal icon
- European Chemicals Agency (ECHA): Butanoneexternal icon
- Gestis Substance Databaseexternal icon
- International Safety Card: Methyl Ethyl Ketoneexternal icon
- IPCS INCHEM Environmental Health Criteria 143: Methyl Ethyl Ketoneexternal icon
- OECD Global Portal to Information on Chemical Substancesexternal icon