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2-Butanone

General Description

Synonyms: Methyl ethyl ketone; MEK; Ethyl methyl ketone; Methyl acetone

OSHA IMIS code: 0430

CAS number: 78-93-3

Monitoring Methods used by OSHA

Primary Laboratory Sampling/Analytical Method:
  • maximum volume: 12 L
  • maximum flow rate: 0.05 L/min
  • current analytical method: gas chromatography; GC/FID
  • analytical solvent: (99:1) carbon disulfide:N,N-dimethylformamide
  • method reference: OSHA 1004 (fully validated)
  • minimum time: 5 min
  • maximum time: 240 min
  • current analytical method: gas chromatography; GC/FID
  • analytical solvent: (99:1) carbon disulfide:N,N-dimethylformamide
  • method reference: OSHA 1004 (fully validated)
  • note: Persons using diffusive samplers to monitor workplace air must ensure that the sampling devices are properly closed before transporting such devices to the laboratory for analysis. The device will continue to sample until properly closed. Diffusive sampler accessories used for analysis of samplers must be included with transported samples. Persons using such devices must provide sampling-site station barometric pressure and temperature to the analytical laboratory to improve accuracy of sampling results.
  • minimum time: 5 min
  • maximum time: 240 min
  • current analytical method: gas chromatography; GC/FID
  • analytical solvent: (99:1) carbon disulfide:N,N-dimethylformamide
  • method reference: OSHA 1004 (fully validated)
  • note: Persons using diffusive samplers to monitor workplace air must ensure that the sampling devices are properly closed before transporting such devices to the laboratory for analysis. The device will continue to sample until properly closed. Diffusive sampler accessories used for analysis of samplers must be included with transported samples. Persons using such devices must provide sampling-site station barometric pressure and temperature to the analytical laboratory to improve accuracy of sampling results.
  • maximum volume: 3 L
  • maximum flow rate: 0.05 L/min (TWA)
  • maximum volume: 0.75 L
  • maximum flow rate: 0.05 L/min (STEL)
  • current analytical method: gas chromatography; GC/FID
  • analytical solvent: (99:1) carbon disulfide:dimethyl formamide
  • method reference: OSHA 84 (fully validated)
  • maximum volume: 3 L
  • maximum flow rate: 0.1 L/min (TWA)
  • maximum volume: 1.5 L
  • maximum flow rate: 0.1 L/min (STEL)
  • current analytical method: gas chromatography; GC/FID
  • analytical solvent: dimethyl sulfoxide
  • alternate analytical solvent: ethanol
  • method reference: OSHA 16 (fully validated)
  • maximum volume: 12 L
  • maximum flow rate: 0.20 L/min
  • current analytical method: gas chromatography; GC/FID
  • analytical solvent: carbon disulfide
  • method reference: NIOSH 2500 (fully validated)

Exposure Limits and Health Effects (Updated September 6, 2012)

Standard Set By Exposure Limit Health Effect Codes -- Health Effects and Target Organs
OSHA PEL - General Industry
See 29 CFR 1910.1000 Table Z-1
200 ppm (590 mg/m3) TWA HE16 -- irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat
OSHA PEL - Construction Industry
See 29 CFR 1926.55 Appendix A
200 ppm (590 mg/m3) TWA HE16 -- irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat
OSHA PEL - Shipyard Employment
See 29 CFR 1915.1000 Table Z-Shipyards
200 ppm (590 mg/m3) TWA HE16 -- irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat
NIOSH REL (listed under ketones) 200 ppm (590 mg/m3) TWA
300 ppm (885 mg/m3) STEL
HE8 -- narcosis (central nervous system depression)
HE16 -- irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat
ACGIH TLV® (1992) 200 ppm (590 mg/m3) TWA
300 ppm (885 mg/m3) STEL
A4
BEI®
HE7 -- central nervous system effects and peripheral neuropathy
HE16 -- irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat
CAL/OSHA PELs 200 ppm (590 mg/m3) TWA
300 ppm (885 mg/m3) STEL
HE16 -- eye and respiratory irritation

Carcinogenic classification:

EPA Inhalation Reference Concentration (RfC): 5 mg/m3

ATSDR Inhalation Minimal Risk Levels (MRLs): Not established

NIOSH IDLH concentration: 3,000 ppm

Notes on other potential health effects and hazards:

  1. 2-Butanone is highly flammable (NIOSH/IPCS 1998; Pohanish 2002).
  2. 2-Butanone is metabolized by reduction to 2-butanol or oxidation to 3-hydroxy-2-butanone, which is subsequently reduced to 2,3-butanediol. The presence of unchanged 2-butanone in urine is the suggested biological exposure index (BEI) because it is strongly correlated with levels in air (EPA 2003a, 2003b).
  3. Physiological differences between men and women, as well as differences due to sex hormone levels, can impact urinary concentrations of biomarkers of exposure for 2-butanone (Tomicic et al. 2011).

Partial reference list:

  • ACGIH: Documentation of the Threshold Limit Values (TLVs) and Biological Exposure Indices (BEIs) - Methyl Ethyl Ketone. 2016.
  • EPA: Integrated Risk Information System - Methyl ethyl ketone (MEK) (CASRN 78-93-3). September 2003a.
  • EPA: Toxicological Review of Methyl Ethyl Ketone (CAS No. 78-93-3). September 2003b.
  • NIOSH: Criteria for a Recommended Standard - Occupational Exposure to Ketones. 1978.
  • NIOSH: Occupational Safety and Health Guideline for 2-Butanone. 1988.
  • NIOSH/CEC/IPCS: International Chemical Safety Cards - Methyl ethyl ketone. March 1998.
  • Pohanish, R.P. (editor): Methyl ethyl ketone. In: Sittig's Handbook of Toxic and Hazardous Chemicals and Carcinogens, Fourth Ed., Vol. 2. Norwich, NY: Noyes Publications, William Andrew Publishing, pp. 1566-1568, 2002.
  • Tomicic, C, Berode, M, Oppliger, A, Castella, V, Leyvraz, F, Praz-Christinaz, SM, Danuser, B: Sex differences in urinary levels of several biological indicators of exposure - a human volunteer study. Toxicol Lett. 202(3):218-25, May 10, 2011.

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