LABORATORY CHEMICAL SAFETY SUMMARY: PHENOL

Substance

Phenol

(Carbolic acid; hydroxybenzene)

CAS 108-95-2

 

Formula

C6H5OH

 

Physical Properties

White crystalline solid

bp 182 °C, mp 41 °C

Slightly soluble in water (8.4 g/100 mL)

 

Odor

Sweet, medicinal odor detectable at 0.06 ppm

Vapor Density

3.24 at bp (air = 1.0)

 

Vapor Pressure

0.36 mmHg at 20 °C

 

Flash Point

79 °C

 

Autoignition Temperature

715 °C

 

Toxicity Data

LD50 oral (rat)

317 mg/kg

 

LD50 skin (rabbit)

850 mg/m3

 

PEL (OSHA)

5 ppm (19 mg/m3)—skin

 

TLV-TWA (ACGIH)

5 ppm (19 mg/m3)—skin

Major Hazards

Corrosive, moderately toxic substance readily absorbed through skin; can cause severe burns to the skin and eyes.

Toxicity

Phenol is a corrosive and moderately toxic substance that affects the central nervous system and can cause damage to the liver and kidneys. Phenol is irritating to the skin but has a local anesthetic effect, so that no pain may be felt on initial contact. A whitening of the area of contact generally occurs, and later severe burns may develop. Phenol is rapidly absorbed through the skin, and toxic or even fatal amounts can be absorbed through relatively small areas. Exposure to phenol vapor can cause severe irritation of the eyes, nose, throat, and respiratory tract. Acute overexposure by any route may lead to nausea, vomiting, muscle weakness, and coma. Contact of phenol with the eyes may cause severe damage and possibly blindness. Ingestion of phenol leads to burning of the mouth and throat and rapid development of digestive disturbances and the systemic effects described above. As little as 1 g can be fatal to humans. Phenol is regarded as a substance with good warning properties.

Chronic exposure to phenol may cause vomiting, diarrhea, dizziness, difficulty in swallowing, headache, skin discoloration, and injury to the liver. Phenol has not been shown to



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