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in the treatment of wastewater and sewage (NTP 2003). Methanol is produced naturally as a by-product of anaerobic metabolism in many varieties of bacteria. Likewise, methanol is a by-product of mammalian carbon metabolism (IPCS 1997). Methanol is a natural component of fruits, vegetables, and fermented spirits (Soffritti et al. 2002). Ingestion of the food additive aspartame results in human exposures to methanol (Soffritti et al. 2002).

The uses or sources of methanol on board submarines are unknown. NRC (1988) listed methanol as a possible air contaminant on board submarines and reported a concentration of 6 parts per million (ppm). No information was provided on sampling protocol, location, operations, or durations. More recent analyses of air samples from submarines did not report methanol as an air contaminant (Raymer et al. 1994; Holdren et al. 1995).

TABLE 7-1 Physical and Chemical Properties of Methanola

Synonyms and trade names

Methyl alcohol, wood alcohol, carbinol, methylol, colonial spirits, columbian spirits, methyl hydroxide, monohydroxymethane, pyroxylic spirits, wood naphtha, and wood spirits

CAS registry number


Molecular formula


Molecular weight


Boiling point


Melting point


Flash point

12°C (closed cup)

Explosive limits

6.0% to 36.5%

Specific gravity

0.7915 at 20°C/4°C

Vapor pressure

127 mmHg at 25°C


Miscible with water, ethanol, ether, benzene, and most organic solvents

Conversion factors

1 ppm = 1.31 mg/m3 ; 1 mg/m3 = 0.76 ppm

aData on vapor pressure are from HSDB (2004); all other data are from Budavari et al. (1989).

Abbreviations: mg/m3, milligrams per cubic meter; mmHg, millimeters of mercury; ppm, parts per million.

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