NIOSH logo and tagline



CAS No. 108-95-2

Phenol (C6H6O or C6H5OH) is a colorless to light-pink, crystalline solid with a sweet, acrid odor. 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. Workers may be harmed from exposure to phenol.The level of harm 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.”

NIOSH Chemical Resources

Related NIOSH Resources

Selected Publications

Related Resources

International Resources