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Chemical Sampling Information (CSI)
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General Description

Synonyms: gamma-6480; gamma-BL; 1,2-Butanolide; 1,4-Butanolide; 4-Butanolide; Butyric Acid Lactone; Butyrolactone; 4-Butyrolactone; Dihydro-2(3H)-Furanone; GBL; Hydroxybutanoic Acid Lactone; 4-Hydroxybutyric Acid Lactone; NCI-C55878; Tetrahydro-2-Furanone

OSHA IMIS Code Number: B715

Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS) Registry Number: 96-48-0

NIOSH Registry of Toxic Effects of Chemical Substances (RTECS) Identification Number: LU3500000

Chemical Description and Physical Properties:

colorless oily hygroscopic liquid
molecular weight: 86.1
vapor pressure: 0.2 kPa at 20°C
molecular formula: C4H6O2
boiling point: 204°C
melting point: -44°C
flash point: 98°C open cup

Health Factors

Carcinogenic Classification:

International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC): Group 3, not classifiable as to its carcinogenicity to humans [381 KB PDF, 171 pages]

Potential Symptoms: Eye irritation; INGES. ACUTE: Nausea, vomiting; bradycardia; hypothermia; drowsiness, CNS depression, labored breathing, unconsciousness.

Health Effects: Irritation-Eye, Nose, Throat, Skin-Moderate (HE15) Narcosis (HE8); Mutagen (HE2)

Affected Organs: Eyes, CNS


  1. OSHA does not have a PEL for gamma-butyrolactone (GBL).
  2. GBL is considered to be generally recognized as safe when used as a flavoring agent (Flavor and Extract Manufacturers Association number 3291; Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives number 0219) and is described has having a milky, creamy taste with a fruity peach-like nuance. It has been found in beer, wine, cooked meat, coffee, tomatoes, and in tobacco smoke.
  3. Due to significant abuse liability, GBL is on DEA's List 1 of chemicals covered by the Chemical Diversion and Trafficking Act [21 CFR 1310.02(a)(24)].
  4. In rats, GBL is rapidly metabolized (t½ 1 minute) after intravenous injection to gamma-hydroxybutyrate, a CNS depressant drug (DEA Schedule III when used in the anticataplexy drug, Xyrem, with schedule I penalties if used as a "date-rape" drug).
  5. Symptoms of withdrawal in physically-dependent abusers of gamma-butyrolactone include delirium, agitated psychosis, and autonomic instability. Insomnia, anxiety, tremors, and hallucinations (visual, auditory or tactile) may also occur.

Literature Basis:

  • International Chemical Safety Cards (WHO/IPCS/ILO): gamma-Butyrolactone.
  • Cartigny, B., et al.: 1H NMR spectroscopic investigation of serum and urine in a case of acute tetrahydrofuran poisoning. J. Anal. Toxicol. 25(4): 270-274, 2001.
  • Liechti, M.E., Kunz, I., Greminger, P., Speich, R. and Kupferschmidt. H.: Clinical features of gamma-hydroxybutyrate and gamma-butyrolactone toxicity and concomitant drug and alcohol use. Drug Alcohol Depend. 81(3): 323-326, 2006.
  • McDaniel, C.H. and Miotto, K.A.: Gamma hydroxybutyrate (GHB) and gamma butyrolactone (GBL) withdrawal: five case studies. J. Psychoactive Drugs 33(2): 143-149, 2001.
  • No authors listed: gamma-Butyrolactone [381 KB PDF, 171 pages]. IARC Monogr. Eval. Carcinog. Risks Hum. 71(Pt. 2): 367-382, 1999.
  • Palmer, R.B.: γ-Butyrolactone and 1,4-butanediol. Abused analogues of γ-hydroxybutyrate. Toxicol. Rev. 23(1): 21-31, 2004.

Date Last Revised: 05/10/2004

Monitoring Methods used by OSHA

Primary Laboratory Sampling/Analytical Method (SLC1):

  • sampling media: Charcoal Tube (100/50 mg sections, 20/40 mesh)
    analytical solvent: (95:5) Methylene Chloride:Methanol
    maximum volume: 10 Liters
    maximum flow rate: 1.0 L/min
    current analytical method: Gas Chromatography; GC/FID
    method reference: OSHA Salt Lake Technical Center In-House File
    method classification: Not Validated
    note: Samples were received requesting cellosolves and butyrolactone. Phase equilibrium studies looked reasonable and gama-butyrolactone was found and confirmed on the "A" portion of a sample.

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