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General Description

Synonyms: Biacetyl; 2,3-Butanedione; 2,3-Butadione; 2,3-Diketobutane; Dimethyl diketone; Dimethylglyoxal; Glyoxal, dimethyl-

OSHA IMIS Code Number: D740

Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS) Registry Number: 431-03-8

NIOSH Registry of Toxic Effects of Chemical Substances (RTECS) Identification Number: EK2625000

Department of Transportation Regulation Number (49 CFR 172.101) and 2012 Emergency Response Guidebook [4 MB PDF, 392 pages]: 2346 127

IPCS International Chemical Safety Card - 2-3-Butanedione: Acute hazards, symptoms, physical and chemical dangers, physical properties, and more

Exposure Limits and Health Effects

Exposure Limit Limit Values HE Codes Health Factors and Target Organs
OSHA Permissible Exposure Limit (PEL) - General Industry Not established    
OSHA PEL - Construction Industry Not established    
OSHA PEL - Shipyard Employment Not established    
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Recommended Exposure Limit (REL) Not established    
American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) Threshold Limit Value (TLV) (2001) 0.01 ppm
(0.04 mg/m3)
TWA

0.02 ppm
(0.07 mg/m3)
STEL
A4
HE10 Lung damage (bronchiolitis obliterans-like illness)
CAL/OSHA PEL Not established    

National Toxicology Program (NTP) carcinogenic classification: Not listed

International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) carcinogenic classification: Not listed

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) carcinogenic classification: Not listed

EPA Inhalation Reference Concentration (RfC): Not established

Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) Inhalation Minimal Risk Level (MRL): Not established

NIOSH Immediately Dangerous to Life or Health (IDLH) concentration: Not established

Notes on Other Potential Health Effects and Hazards

  1. Diacetyl is highly flammable and vapor/air mixtures are explosive. Heating may cause violent combustion or explosion, and it reacts violently with strong acids, strong bases, and oxidants (NIOSH/IPCS 2009).
  2. A cause-effect relationship between diacetyl and bronchiolitis obliterans is difficult to assess because of mean diacetyl exposure levels ranging over four orders of magnitude for workplaces with affected individuals. In addition, food-processing and flavor-manufacturing employees with this lung disease were exposed to other volatile agents (CDC 2007; Kanwal et al. 2006; Kreiss et al. 2002; Kullman et al. 2005; NIOSH 2004, 2006).
  3. Workers at a microwave popcorn production plant exposed to airborne diacetyl had an increased prevalence of many health effects, including unusual fatigue (Kreiss et al. 2002).
  4. Workers exposed to diacetyl may experience skin irritation (NIOSH 2004).
  5. Some workers affected by bronchiolitis obliterans may experience fever, night sweats, and weight loss (NIOSH 2006).
  6. Laboratory studies of diacetyl administered by inhalation show destruction of the lining of the respiratory system (Hubbs 2008).

Date Last Revised: 9/6/2012

Literature Basis:

  • ACGIH: Documentation of the Threshold Limit Values (TLVs) and Biological Exposure Indices (BEIs) - Diacetyl. 2012.
  • CDC: Fixed obstructive lung disease among workers in the flavor-manufacturing industry - California, 2004-2007. MMWR 56(16): 389-393, 2007.
  • Hubbs AF, Goldsmith WT, Kashon ML, Frazer D, Mercer RR, Battelli LA, Kullman GJ, Schwegler-Berry D, Friend S, Castranova V Respiratory toxicologic pathology of inhaled diacetyl in sprague-dawley rats.:, Toxicologic Pathology Vol. 36 (2), pp. 330-44.
  • Kanwal, R. et al.: Evaluation of flavorings-related lung disease risk at six microwave popcorn plants. J. Occup. Environ. Med. 48(2): 149-157, 2006.
  • Kreiss, K., Gomaa, A., Kullman, G., Fedan, K., Simoes, E.J. and Enright, P.L.: Clinical bronchiolitis obliterans in workers at a microwave-popcorn plant. New Eng. J. Med. 347(5): 330-338, 2002.
  • Kullman, G., Boylstein, R., Jones, W., Piacitelli, C., Pendergrass, S. and Kreiss, K.: Characterization of respiratory exposures at a microwave popcorn plant with cases of bronchiolitis obliterans. J. Occup. Environ. Hyg. 2(3): 169-178, 2005.
  • NIOSH: Preventing Lung Disease in Workers Who Use or Make Flavorings. NIOSH Publication No. 2004-110. 2004.
  • NIOSH: Safety and Health Topic - Flavorings-Related Lung Disease. 2006.
  • NIOSH/IPCS: International Chemical Safety Cards - 2,3-Butanedione. April 2009.
Monitoring Methods used by OSHA

Laboratory Sampling/Analytical Method:

  • sampling media: Two specially dried Silica Gel Tubes in series. Each tube has a single 600-mg 20/40 mesh section and a glass-fiber filter, the filter faces forward when sampling. SKC 226-183, or equivalent. Use an opaque tube holder or wrap tubes with aluminum foil or other opaque material while sampling.
    maximum volume: 9 liters
    minimum flow rate:
    0.05 L/min for long-term sampling; 3 liters at 0.2 L/min for short-term sampling.
    note: Separate the two tubes and cap both ends of each tube as soon as possible after sampling. Individually seal the two tubes. Protect tubes from light after sampling.
    • analytical method 1: Gas Chromatography; GC/ECD
      analytical solvent: (95:5) ethanol:water with 2 mg/mL PFBHA reagent
      method reference: OSHA Analytical Method (OSHA 1012)
      method classification: Fully Validated

    • analytical method 2: Gas Chromatography; GC/FID
      analytical solvent: (95:5) ethanol:water
      method reference: OSHA Analytical Method (OSHA 1013)
      method classification: Fully Validated
  • sampling media: Two Silica Gel Tubes in series (150/75 mg sections, 20/40 mesh) Use an opaque tube holder or wrap tubes with aluminum foil or other opaque material while sampling.
    analytical solvent: (95:5) ethanol:water
    maximum volume: 3 Liters
    maximum flow rate: 0.05 L/min
    current analytical method: Gas Chromatography; GC/FID
    method reference: OSHA Analytical Method (OSHA PV2118)
    method classification: Partially Validated
    note: Separate the two tubes and cap both ends of each tube as soon as possible after sampling. Individually seal the two tubes. Protect tubes from light after sampling.

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