CAS No. 108-95-2
Phenol (C6H6O or C6H5OH) is a colorless to light-pink, crystalline solid with a sweet, acrid odor. Workers may be harmed from exposure to phenol. Exposure to phenol may cause irritation to the skin, eyes, nose, throat, and nervous system. Some symptoms of exposure to phenol are weight loss, weakness, exhaustion, muscle aches, and pain. Severe exposure can cause liver and/or kidney damage, skin burns, tremor, convulsions, and twitching. The level of exposure depends upon the dose, duration, and work being done.
Phenol is used in many industries. It’s used for medicine as a slimicide, antiseptic, and disinfectant and to manufacture a number of products. Some examples of workers at risk of being exposed to phenol include the following:
- Workers in the petroleum industry
- Workers in plants where nylon is manufactured
- Workers in plants that manufacture epoxy resins
- Workers in plants that manufacture herbicides
NIOSH recommends that employers use Hierarchy of Controls to prevent injuries. If you work in an industry that uses phenol, 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 phenol. Useful search terms for phenol include “carbolic acid, “hydroxybenzene,” “monohydroxybenzene,” “phenyl alcohol,” “phenyl hydroxide.”
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.
The Health Hazard Evaluation Program (HHE) conducts onsite investigations of possible worker exposure to chemicals. Search the HHE database for more information on phenol.
- NIOSHTIC-2 search results on phenol– A searchable database of worker safety and health publications, documents, grant reports, and journal articles supported in whole or in part by NIOSH.
- Health concerns for workers who worked around Pentachlorophenol. NIOSH Worker Health Study Summary, 2011.
- Criteria for a Recommended Standard: Occupational Exposure to Phenol-DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 76-196 (July 1976)
Presents a standard to prevent the adverse effects of exposure to phenol over a working lifetime.
- More articles from the NIOSH Manual of Analytical Methods:
- Phenol: Documentation for Immediately Dangerous to Life or Health Concentration: Documents the criteria and information sources that have been used by NIOSH to determine immediately dangerous to life or health concentrations.
- ATSDR’s Medical Management Guidelines (MMGs): Phenol
- ATSDR’s ToxFAQs: Phenol
- Toxicological Profile for Phenol (ATSDR)
- OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Guidelines): Phenol
- OSHA (Chemical Sampling): Phenol
- New Jersey Hazardous Substance Fact Sheets: Phenol
- Acute Exposure Guideline Levels (AEGLs) (EPA): Phenol>
- EPA Chemistry Dashboard: Phenol
- EPA (Air Toxics): Phenol
- Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) (EPA): Phenol
- NLM (Hazardous Substance Data Bank): Phenol
- NLM (Haz-Map): Phenol
- NLM (Household Products Database): Phenol
- NLM (MedlinePlus): Carbolic Acid
- Occupational Safety and Health (OSHA) Guideline for Phenol
- OSHA Hazard Communication website
- European Chemicals Agency (ECHA): Phenol
- IPCS INCHEM: Phenol
- IPCS INCHEM Poison Information Monograph 412: Phenol
- Gestis Substance Database
- International Chemical Safety Card: Phenol, Carbolic Acid
- OECD Global Portal to Information on Chemical Substances
- WHO (Health and Safety Guide No. 88): Phenol
- WHO (Environmental Health Criteria 161): Phenol
- Page last reviewed: June 26, 2018
- Page last updated: June 26, 2018
- Content source:
- National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division