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Hexane (n-Hexane)

General Description

Synonyms: Hexyl hydride; Normal-hexane

OSHA IMIS code: 1380

CAS number: 110-54-3

Monitoring Methods used by OSHA

Primary Laboratory Sampling/Analytical Method:
  • charcoal tube (100/50 mg sections, 20/40 mesh)
  • maximum volume: 4 L
  • maximum flow rate: 0.2 L/min
  • current analytical method: gas chromatography; GC/FID
  • analytical solvent: carbon disulfide
  • alternative solvent: (99:1) carbon disulfide:dimethylformamide
  • method reference: OSHA PV2248 (partially 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

500 ppm (1800 mg/m3) TWA HE7 -- central nervous system depression, slight nausea, headache
HE8 -- narcosis
HE16 -- eye and throat irritation
OSHA PEL - Construction Industry
See 29 CFR 1926.55 Appendix A
500 ppm (1800 mg/m3) TWA HE7 -- central nervous system depression, slight nausea, headache
HE8 -- narcosis
HE16 -- eye and throat irritation
OSHA PEL - Shipyard Employment
See 29 CFR 1915.1000 Table Z-Shipyards
500 ppm (1800 mg/m3) TWA HE7 -- central nervous system depression, slight nausea, headache
HE8 -- narcosis
HE16 -- eye and throat irritation
NIOSH REL 50 ppm (180 mg/m3) TWA HE7 -- nervous system disturbances, polyneuropathy
ACGIH TLV® (1996) 50 ppm (176 mg/m3) TWA
HE7 -- nervous system disturbances, central nervous system depression, polyneuropathy, peripheral neuropathy, numbness, tingling of extremities, muscle weakness
HE16 -- irritation of the eyes, mucus membranes, and skin
CAL/OSHA PELs 50 ppm (176 mg/m3) TWA
HE7 -- peripheral neuropathy after skin contact

Carcinogenic classification:

EPA Inhalation Reference Concentration (RfC): 7x10-1 mg/m3

ATSDR Inhalation Minimal Risk Levels (MRLs): 0.6 ppm (chronic)

NIOSH IDLH concentration: 1,100 ppm (10% LEL)

Notes on other potential health effects and hazards:

  1. Vapor/air mixtures are explosive (NIOSH/IPCS 2000).
  2. Impairment of color vision can occur that may not be noticeable (subclinical) without specific testing for it (Issever et al. 2002).
  3. n-Hexane is metabolized via CYP2B6, CYP2E1, and alcohol dehydrogenase to 2,5-hexanedione, which, after acid treatment of urine, serves as a marker for biological monitoring of exposure (Bolt et al. 2003).
  4. Suppression of immunoglobulin (IgG, IgM, and IgA) levels were noted from exposure to n-hexane (Karakaya et al. 1996). ATSDR discounted this study because reductions of immunoglobulins remained well within the normal ranges, so the toxicological significance cannot be assessed without further confirmatory studies (ATSDR 1999).
  5. Commercial hexane contains a mixture of hexane isomers (n-hexane, 2-methyl pentane, 3-methyl pentane, 2,3-dimethylbutane), cyclohexane, methyl cyclopentane,pentane and heptane isomers The n-hexane content varies from 20 to 80%. (IPCS 1991)
  6. The OSHA PEL applies to total hexane. The CalOSHA PEL applies to n-hexane.
  7. The EPA IRIS RfC  and ATSDR  MRL apply to n-hexane.
  8. The EPA RfC is based on decreased motor nerve conduction velocity observed ina sub-chronic inhalation study in rats. (Huang 1989).
  9. Polyneuropathy has been observed in automotive technicians using aerosol brake cleaners containing 50%--60% hexane (composed of 20%--80% n-hexane), 20%--30% toluene, and 1%--10% each of methyl ethyl ketone (MEK), acetone, isopropanol, methanol, and mixed xylenes. (MMWR 2001).

Partial reference list:

Chemical Sampling Information

By Name


By CAS Number

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