be a carcinogen in humans. There is some evidence from animal studies that phenol may be a reproductive toxin.

Flammability and Explosibility

Phenol is a combustible solid (NFPA rating = 2). When heated, phenol produces flammable vapors that are explosive at concentrations of 3 to 10% in air. Carbon dioxide or dry chemical extinguishers should be used to fight phenol fires.

Reactivity and Incompatibility

Phenol may react violently with strong oxidizing agents.

Storage and Handling

Phenol should be handled in the laboratory using the "basic prudent practices" described in Chapter 5.C. Because of its corrosivity and ability to penetrate the skin, all work with phenol and its solutions should be conducted while wearing impermeable gloves, appropriate protective clothing, and splash goggles. Operations with the potential to produce dusts or aerosols of phenol or its solutions should be carried out in a fume hood.


In the event of skin contact, immediately wash with soap and water and remove contaminated clothing. In case of eye contact, promptly wash with copious amounts of water for 15 min (lifting upper and lower lids occasionally) and obtain medical attention. If phenol is ingested, obtain medical attention immediately. If large amounts of this compound are inhaled, move the person to fresh air and seek medical attention at once.

In the event of a spill, remove all ignition sources, soak up the phenol with a spill pillow or absorbent material, place in an appropriate container, and dispose of properly. Respiratory protection may be necessary in the event of a large spill or release in a confined area. Care should be taken not to walk in spills of phenol or solutions of phenol because this substance can readily penetrate leather.


Excess phenol and waste material containing this substance should be placed in an appropriate container, clearly labeled, and handled according to your institution's waste disposal guidelines. For more information on disposal procedures, see Chapter 7 of this volume.

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