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Health Effects

1,3-Butadiene is often referred to simply as butadiene. However, the general term butadiene includes both the common industrial chemical 1,3-butadiene and 1,2-butadiene, a contaminant in some industrial processes. Physical characteristics of 1,3-butadiene are shown below.

Physical Characteristics of 1,3-Butadiene
Physical Description Colorless gas that has a mild gasoline-like odor.
Molecular Weight 54.1
Boiling/Melting Point 24ºF / -164ºF
Vapor Pressure @69.8ºF: 1,840 mm Hg
Specific Gravity @68ºF: 0.62
Solubility Soluble in alcohol, ether, acetone, and benzene, not soluble in water.
Flammable Extreme fire hazard.

The health effects caused by exposure to 1,3-butadiene can be split into two categories: acute and chronic. Acute exposures can further be split into low and high doses. Acute low exposures may cause irritation to the eyes, throat, nose, and lungs. Frostbite may also occur with skin exposure. Acute high exposures may cause damage to the central nervous system or cause symptoms such as distorted blurred vision, vertigo, general tiredness, decreased blood pressure, headache, nausea, decreased pulse rate, and fainting. Chronic effects caused by exposure to 1,3-butadiene are controversial. Several human epidemiological studies have shown an increase in cardiovascular diseases and cancer. However, due to the small numbers of cancers and confounding factors such as smoking, and simultaneous exposure to benzene and styrene, a true causal relationship cannot be established. Experiments involving chronic exposures to mice and rats have shown a strong causal relationship between 1,3-butadiene exposure and cancer. Animal studies have also shown reproductive and developmental problems. Based on human and animal studies, the EPA has classified 1,3-butadiene as a known human carcinogen. The American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) has given 1,3-butadiene a rating of A2, suspected human carcinogen.

The following links provide information about the health effects of 1,3-butadiene:

  • 1,3-Butadiene. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), (1994, May). Provides an Immediately Dangerous to Life or Health (IDLH) document that includes acute toxicity data for 1,3-butadiene.
  • 1,3-Butadiene. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Publication No. 84-105 (Current Intelligence Bulletin 41), (1984, February). Report on studies of animals and humans exposed to 1,3-butadiene. Provides information on health effects at threshold exposure levels.
  • TOXNET for 1,3-Butadiene. The National Library of Medicine.
  • Report on Carcinogens (RoC). US Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), National Toxicology Program (NTP). Identifies and discusses agents, substances, mixtures, or exposure circumstances that may pose a health hazard due to their carcinogenicity. The listing of substances in the RoC only indicates a potential hazard and does not establish the exposure conditions that would pose cancer risks to individuals.
    • 1,3-Butadiene (PDF). NTP classification: Known to be a human carcinogen
  • International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) Monographs on the Evaluation of Carcinogenic Risks for Humans (PDF). World Health Organization (WHO). IARC Classification: Carcinogenic to humans (Group 1).
  • Toxicological Profile for 1,3-Butadiene. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Register (ATSDR), (2009, September).
  • ToxFAQs™ for 1,3-Butadiene. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), (2009, September). Answers the most frequently asked health questions about 1,3-butadiene.
  • 1,3-Butadiene (CASRN 106-99-0). Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS). Provides information on carcinogenicity, exposure risks based on amount and route of entry.
  • NTP Toxicology and Carcinogenesis Studies of 1,3-Butadiene (CAS No. 106-99-0) in B6C3F1 Mice (Inhalation Studies). National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), (1993, May). Contains links to pathology and targeted organs of 1,3-butadiene.
  • 1,3-Butadiene. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), (Revised March 2009). Lists 1,3-butadiene as a Hazardous Air Pollutant (HAP) under the National Emissions Standard Hazardous Air Pollutants section of its Clean Air Act.
  • Health Assessment of 1,3-Butadiene (PDF). Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), National Center for Environmental Assessment, (2002, October). Report on ambient exposure hazards with focus on carcinogenicity and reproductive/developmental effects. Includes assessment of exposure levels on carcinogenic and reproductive/developmental effects.
  • 1,3-Butadiene (PDF). New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services, Hazardous Substance Fact Sheet, (Revised July 2007). Provides a summary source of information of all potential and most severe health hazards that may result from 1,3-butadiene exposure.
  • International Chemical Safety Cards: 1,3-Butadiene. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), (2000, December 4). Summarizes essential health and safety information on 1,3-butadiene in emergency situations including exposure, fire, and explosion.

*Accessibility Assistance: Contact OSHA's Directorate of Technical Support and Emergency Management at (202) 693-2300 for assistance accessing PDF materials.

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