back to OSHA Safety and Health Topics

1,3-Butadiene - Copyright WARNING: Not all materials on this Web site were created by the federal government. Some content  including both images and text  may be the copyrighted property of others and used by the DOL under a license. Such content generally is accompanied by a copyright notice. It is your responsibility to obtain any necessary permission from the owner's of such material prior to making use of it. You may contact the DOL for details on specific content, but we cannot guarantee the copyright status of such items. Please consult the U.S. Copyright Office at the Library of Congress  http://www.copyright.gov  to search for copyrighted materials.
1,3-Butadiene

1,3-Butadiene ranks 36th in the most produced chemicals in the United States. Three billion pounds per year are produced in the United States and 12 billion globally. 1,3-butadiene is produced through the processing of petroleum and is mainly used in the production of synthetic rubber, but is also found in smaller amounts in plastics and fuel. Exposure to 1,3-butadiene mainly occurs in the workplace, including the following industries: synthetic elastomer (rubber and latex) production, petroleum refining, secondary lead smelting, water treatment, agricultural fungicides, production of raw material for nylon, and the use of fossil fuels. Exposure can also occur from automobile exhaust; polluted air and water near chemical, plastic or rubber facilities; cigarette smoke; and ingestion of foods that are contaminated from plastic or rubber containers.

OSHA Standards

Exposures to 1,3-butadiene are addressed in specific standards for general industry. This section highlights OSHA standards, preambles to final rules (background to final rules), and standard interpretations (official letters of interpretation of the standards) related to 1,3-butadiene. Twenty-five states, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands have OSHA-approved State Plans and have adopted their own standards and enforcement policies. For the most part, these States adopt standards that are identical to Federal OSHA. However, some States have adopted different standards applicable to this topic or may have different enforcement policies.

General Industry (29 CFR 1910)

Preambles to Final Rules

Directives

  • 1,3-Butadiene. CPL 02-02-066 [CPL 2-2.66], (1997, October 30). Establishes policies and provides clarification to ensure uniform enforcement of the Occupational Exposure to 1,3-Butadiene Standard, 29 CFR 1910.1051.

  • Search all available directives.

Standard Interpretations

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:

  • Health Hazard Information on 1,3-Butadiene. OSHA Hazard Information Bulletin (HIB), (1984, April 11). Describes studies on 1,3-butadiene and its health effects.

  • 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 [235 KB PDF, 3 pages]. NTP classification: Known to be a human carcinogen
  • International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) Monographs on the Evaluation of Carcinogenic Risks for Humans [810 KB PDF, 140 pages]. 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 [4 MB PDF, 435 pages]. 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 [622 KB PDF, 6 pages]. 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.

Exposure Evaluation

The following references provide information on evaluating occupational exposures to 1,3-butadiene.

  • Chemical Sampling Information. OSHA. Presents, in concise form, data on a large number of chemical substances that may be encountered in industrial hygiene investigations. Basic reference for industrial hygienists engaged in OSHA field activity.
  • Occupational Chemical Database. OSHA maintains this chemical database as a convenient reference for the occupational safety and health community. It compiles information from several government agencies and organizations. This database originally was developed by OSHA in cooperation with EPA.
  • Locating and Estimating Air Emissions from Sources of 1,3-Butadiene[2 MB PDF, 247 pages]. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Publication No. 454/R-96-008, (1996, November). Includes general descriptions of the emitting processes and identifies potential release points and emission factors.

Analytical Methods

The analytical methods recommended for 1,3-butadiene are OSHA Method 56 and NIOSH Method 1024.

OSHA

National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)

  • 1,3-Butadiene [532 KB PDF, 8 pages]. Method 1024, (1994, August 15).

Possible Solutions

There are several ways to reduce exposure to 1,3-butadiene. The preferred approach is to utilize engineering controls such as ventilation and process modification. If these controls are not sufficient other controls may be implemented, including requiring respirator protection where ventilation is not feasible, requiring workers to shower and change into street clothes before leaving the plant, and issuing workers protective eye glasses and splash shields as needed.

  • NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards. US Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Publication No. 2005-149, (2007, September). Provides physical description, exposure limits, measurement method, personal protection & sanitation, first aid, respirator recommendations, exposure routes, symptoms, target organs, and cancer sites.
  • Occupational Health Guidelines for Chemical Hazards. US Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Publication No. 81-123, (1981, January). Contains information on identification, physical and chemical properties, health hazards, exposure limits, exposure sources and control methods, monitoring, personal hygiene, storage, spills and leaks, and personal protective equipment.

  • The following table lists exposure limits that have been set by OSHA, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), and the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH):

    Exposure Limits
    Organization
    OSHA 1 ppm Permissible Exposure Limit (PEL)
    OSHA 5 ppm for 15 minute(s) Short-Term Exposure Limit (STEL)
    NIOSH 1 ppm Recommended Exposure Limit (REL) for 8-hour Time Weighted Average (TWA)
    ACGIH 2 ppm Threshold Limit Value (TLV), A-2 suspected human carcinogen

For additional information on general safety and health concerns, see OSHA's Safety and Health Topics Pages on:

Additional Information

Related Safety and Health Topics Pages

Other Resources

  • For additional information on human, animal, and other studies, a reference page is available.

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