Xylene

Overview

CAS No. 1330-20-7

Xylene (C8H10) is a colorless, flammable liquid with a sweet odor. Exposure to xylene can irritate the eyes, nose, skin, and throat. Xylene can also cause headaches, dizziness, confusion, loss of muscle coordination, and in high doses, death. Workers may be harmed from exposure to xylene. The level of exposure depends upon the dose, duration, and work being done.

Xylene is used in many industries. It’s used in the petroleum and wood processing industries.  Some examples of workers at risk of being exposed to xylene include the following:

  • Painters and furniture refinishers who use paint thinners, solvents, lacquers and paint removers
  • Biomedical laboratory workers who use it as a solvent to fix tissue specimens and rinse stains
  • Workers involved in distillation and purification of xylene
  • Workers employed in industries who use xylene as a raw material
  • Gas station and automobile garage workers through exposure to petroleum products

NIOSH recommends that employers use Hierarchy of Controls to prevent injuries. If you work in an industry that uses xylene, 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 xylene. Useful search terms for xylene include “meta-xylene,” “m-xylene,” “o-xylene,” “p-xylene,” and “xylidine.”

NIOSH Chemical Resources

Logo of 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.Cdc-pdf[PDF - 1 MB]

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

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

Related NIOSH Resources

Selected Publications

Related Resources

International Resources

Page last reviewed: November 2, 2018