Toluene also referred to as methylbenzene, is a transparent substance that has a specific sweet smell. It is commonly used by industrial manufacturers as a powerful solvent. You can also find this chemical in various consumer products, including glues, paints, and nail polish removers.
Companies extract toluene from tolu trees or crude oil. It is often created during the process of gasoline production as well as during other fuel processing. You can buy this substance from various online chemical stores such as Simple Solvents.
In this article, we will talk more about toluene, how it is used, and what kind of risks are associated with it.
How is Toluene Used?
Toluene has a wide variety of applications. A lot of businesses use it as an ingredient for other products, but it is also utilized for various industrial purposes.
Toluene is especially great for creating other industrial substances. You can utilize it to make nylon, plastics, benzene, trinitrotoluene, polyurethane, benzoyl chloride, benzoic acid, and toluene diisocyanate.
Among others, it is an important part of formulation for nail products. Toluene allows hardeners, nail polishes, and lacquers to be applied without a hitch.
As the octane rating increases, a fuel's resistance will also increase as well. Fuels with high resistance are less prone to pinging and knocking during the process of combustion.
Toluene is very dense, which is why it can be utilized in such a manner. The chemical has very high energy per unit of volume, allowing it to enhance the power of a vehicle.
How to Safely Use Toluene?
Toluene can be used for manufacturing processes but also within households. A small quantity of the substance is not that dangerous, especially when utilized as an ingredient for other items. However, that doesn't mean you should ingest it or apply it to a mucous membrane.
The chemical can quickly and easily evaporate. So, when using household items such as paints, paint, thinners, glues, adhesives, nail polishes, synthetic fragrances, you need to close the packaging after use. As the substance evaporates, toluene will start accumulating in the air.
A good way to counter this potential hazard is by ventilating the space. Furthermore, a person should closely follow the manufacturer's instructions no matter which toluene product they're using.
Toluene in Nail Polish
The most common use of toluene is for nail polish. Keep in mind that toluene within cosmetic items is reviewed for safety. The first studies were performed in 1987 by the Cosmetic Ingredient Review.
After a thorough analysis, the expert panel has determined that this chemical is safe for use with nail polish products as long as its concentration doesn't go above 50%.
The substance was re-evaluated back in 2005, and, once again, the expert panel has determined that toluene is safe for use under the original conditions. So, when you use nail polish, you don't have to be worried about its toluene content or potential hazards.
How Does the US Government Regulate Toluene?
Like with other toxic substances, the US federal government places a special emphasis on regulating the substance in order to safeguard citizen’s health.
The US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is especially concerned about the use of toluene within an occupational setting. In other words, they are concerned about potential worker exposure. As a way of safeguarding the health of people who are working within the manufacturing industry, OSHA has limited the national toluene exposure to 200 parts per million or 200 ppm.
The US National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) is the second regulatory body that handles the substance. According to them, a person shouldn’t be exposed to more than 100 ppm of toluene within the air during a 10-hour shift. According to the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists, the exposure should exceed 20 ppm per workday.
In order to control the companies, EPA monitors workplace behavior and regulation. They set a limit to how much toluene can be emitted from industrial sources within a factory. Among others, they regulate how much contaminants can be within the drinking water.
What Are the Potential Risks of Using Toluene?
Although toluene is a well-regulated substance when it comes to household products, when used on a larger industrial scale, it can present a potential health hazard.
The first thing worth noting is that toluene is not as dangerous as benzene, a substance known for its carcinogenic properties. Still, this chemical is far from safe. Among others, it can cause the following health problems:
Nowadays, toluene is commonly created within oil refineries. It is a byproduct of ethylene crackers and companies utilize it to create aromatic hydrocarbons. Perhaps the biggest risk associated with toluene is when you inhale it.
Here are some of the problems that it might cause:
If one of the workers gets exposed to excessive quantities of the substance, it is necessary for them to leave the facility immediately and seek medical assistance.