Toluene

Overview

CAS No. 108-88-3

Toluene (C₆H₅CH₃) is a colorless liquid with a sweet, pungent odor. Exposure to toluene can cause eye and nose irritation, tiredness, confusion, euphoria, dizziness, headache, dilated pupils, tears, anxiety, muscle fatigue, insomnia, nerve damage, inflammation of the skin, and liver and kidney damage. Workers may be harmed from exposure to toluene. The level of exposure depends upon the dose, duration, and work being done.

Toluene is used in many industries. It’s used in paints, dyes, solvents, fingernail polish, and gasoline.  Some examples of workers at risk of being exposed to toluene include the following:

  • Workers in locations where there are leaking underground gasoline storage tanks
  • Technicians who work in nail salons
  • Construction workers who use paint, adhesives or solvents
  • Workers involved with the production of gasoline

NIOSH recommends that employers use Hierarchy of Controls to prevent injuries.  If you work in an industry that uses toluene, 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 toluene. Useful search terms for toluene include “methyl benzene,” “methyl benzol,” “phenyl methane,” and “toluol.”

NIOSH Chemical Resources

Related NIOSH Resources

Selected Publications

Related Resources

International Resources

Page last reviewed: June 21, 2019