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Methyl Ethyl Ketone

Overview

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.”

NIOSH Chemical Resources

Logo of NIOSH Pocket Guide

NIOSH Pocket Guide

The NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards (NPG) helps workers, employers, and occupational health professionals recognize and control workplace chemical hazards.

Logo of Manual of Analytical Methods.

Manual of Analytical Methods

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.

Logo of Health Hazard Evaluations consisting of three letters: HHE

Health Hazard Evaluations

The Health Hazard Evaluation Program (HHE) conducts onsite investigations of possible worker exposure to chemicals. Search the HHE database for more information on methyl ethyl ketone.

Related NIOSH Resources

Selected Publications

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