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Phenol

Overview

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.”

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 phenol.

Related NIOSH Resources

Selected Publications

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International Resources

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