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Methyl Alcohol

General Description

  • Synonyms: Methanol; Wood alcohol; Columbian spirits; Carbinol
  • OSHA IMIS Code Number: 1660
  • Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS) Registry Number: 67-56-1
  • NIOSH Registry of Toxic Effects of Chemical Substances (RTECS) Identification Number: PC1400000
  • Department of Transportation Regulation Number (49 CFR 172.101) and Emergency Response Guidebook: 1230 131
  • NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards - Methyl Alcohol: Physical description, chemical properties, potentially hazardous incompatibilities, and more
  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Hazard Summary - Methyl Alcohol: Uses, sources and potential exposure, acute and chronic health hazard information, 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
See 29 CFR 1910.1000 Table Z-1

200 ppm
(260 mg/m3) TWA

HE3

Accumulation in blood and tissues

OSHA PEL - Construction Industry
See 29 CFR 1926.55 Appendix A

200 ppm
(260 mg/m3) TWA

HE3

Accumulation in blood and tissues

OSHA PEL - Shipyard Employment
See 29 CFR 1915.1000 Table Z-Shipyards

200 ppm
(260 mg/m3) TWA

HE3

Accumulation in blood and tissues

National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Recommended Exposure Limit (REL)

200 ppm
(260 mg/m3) TWA

250 ppm (325 mg/m3) STEL

Skin

HE3

Visual disturbances, optic neuropathy

HE7

Headache, drowsiness, dizziness
Target organs: Brain, central nervous system

HE16

Eye, skin, and respiratory irritation; dermatitis

American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) Threshold Limit Value (TLV) (2008)

200 ppm
(262 mg/m3) TWA

250 ppm
(328 mg/m3) STEL

BEI, Skin

HE3

Visual disturbances, optic neuropathy

HE4

Metabolic acidosis

HE7

Headache, dizziness
Target organs: Brain, central nervous system

HE8

Narcosis
Target organs: Brain, central nervous system

HE16

Sensory irritation
Target organs: Eyes, skin, respiratory system

CAL/OSHA PELs

200 ppm (260 mg/m3) TWA

1,000 ppm Ceiling

250 ppm (325 mg/m3) STEL; Skin

HE3

Visual disturbances, optic neuropathy

HE4

Metabolic acidosis

HE7

Headache, dizziness
Target organs: Brain, central nervous system

HE8

Narcosis
Target organs: Brain, central nervous system

HE16

Sensory irritation
Target organs: Eyes, skin, respiratory system

  • National Toxicology Program (NTP) carcinogenic classification: Not listed
  • International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) carcinogenic classification: Not listed
  • 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: 6,000 ppm

Notes on Other Potential Health Effects and Hazards

  1. Vapor/air mixtures are highly flammable and explosive (NIOSH/IPCS 2000).
  2. Both acute and chronic exposures can cause specific brain lesions that lead to movement disorders such as Parkinson’s Disease (Finklestein and Vardi 2002), seizures, polyneuropathy, trigeminal anesthesia, and visual/smelling loss (Hageman et al. 2003).

Date Last Revised: 9/6/2012

Literature Basis

  • ACGIH: Documentation of the Threshold Limit Values (TLVs) and Biological Exposure Indices (BEIs) - Methanol. 2009.
  • Finkelstein, Y. and Vardi, J.: Progressive parkinsonism in a young experimental physicist following long-term exposure to methanol. Neurotoxicology 23(4-5): 521-525, 2002.
  • Hageman, G., van der Hoek, J.A. and Faber, C.G.: Spastic paraparesis without optic atrophy after occupational methanol exposure. J. Neurol. 250(7): 876-877, 2003.
  • NIOSH. Occupational Health Guideline for Methyl Alcohol. September 1978.
  • NIOSH. Criteria for a Recommended Standard - Occupational Exposure to Methyl Alcohol. March 1976.
  • NIOSH/IPCS. International Chemical Safety Cards - Methanol. November 4, 2000.

Monitoring Methods used by OSHA

Laboratory Sampling/Analytical Method:
  • Two Anasorb 747 Tubes in series (First tube 400 mg, second tube 200 mg section) See note
  • analytical solvent: 50:50 Carbon Disulfide:Dimethylformamide
  • maximum volume: 3 Liters (RH<50% @ 25°C)
  • maximum flow rate: 0.05 L/min (TWA)
  • maximum volume: 5 Liters (RH>50% @ 25°C)
  • maximum flow rate: 0.05 L/min (TWA)
  • maximum volume: 0.75 Liters
  • maximum flow rate: 0.05 L/min (STEL)
  • current analytical method: Gas Chromatography; GC/FID
  • method reference: OSHA Analytical Method (OSHA 91)
  • method classification: Fully Validated
  • note: Separate tubes and seal each after sampling.
  • Silica Gel Tube (520/260 mg sections, 20/40 mesh)
  • analytical solvent: 0.02 N H2SO4
  • alternate analytical solvent: 95:5 water/isopropanol
  • maximum volume: 6 Liters
  • maximum flow rate: 0.1 L/min (TWA)
  • maximum volume: 1.5 Liters
  • maximum flow rate: 0.1 L/min (STEL)
  • current analytical method: Gas Chromatography; GC/FID
  • method reference: NIOSH Modified Analytical Method (NIOSH 2000)
  • method classification: Fully Validated
  • note: The larger size tube is recommended due to low capacity of the 150/75 mg tubes at high humidities.
On-Site Sampling Techniques/Methods:
  • Detector Tube
  • manufacturer: AUER/MSA
  • model/type: Ethanol-100, MSA P/N 804136, AUER P/N 5086-818
  • sampling information: follow manufacturer's instructions
  • upper measurement limit: 2350 ppm
  • detection limit: approximately 50 ppm
  • overall uncertainty: unknown
  • method reference: on-site air secondary (manufacturer)
  • Detector Tube
  • manufacturer: Gastec
  • model/type: 111
  • sampling information: 0.5 to 4 strokes
  • upper measurement limit: 4.5%
  • detection limit: 0.0004%
  • overall uncertainty: 25% for 0.02 to 0.5%, 16% for 0.5 to 1.5%
  • method reference: on-site air secondary (manufacturer)
  • Detector Tube
  • manufacturer: Gastec
  • model/type: 111L
  • sampling information: 1 to 2 strokes
  • upper measurement limit: 1000 ppm
  • detection limit: 5 ppm
  • overall uncertainty: 25% for 40 to 200 ppm, 16% for 200 to 1000 ppm
  • method reference: on-site air secondary (manufacturer)
  • Detector Tube
  • manufacturer: Gastec
  • model/type: 111LL
  • sampling information: 2 to 4 strokes
  • upper measurement limit: 56 ppm
  • detection limit: 0.2 ppm
  • overall uncertainty: 25% for 2 to 5 ppm, 16% for 5 to 20 ppm
  • method reference: on-site air secondary (manufacturer)
  • Detector Tube
  • manufacturer: Matheson-Kitagawa
  • model/type: 8014-119SA
  • sampling information: 1 stroke
  • upper measurement limit: 6%
  • detection limit: approximately 0.05%
  • overall uncertainty: unknown
  • method reference: on-site air secondary (manufacturer)
  • Detector Tube
  • manufacturer: Matheson-Kitagawa
  • model/type: 8014-119U
  • sampling information: 1 stroke
  • upper measurement limit: 1000 ppm
  • detection limit: approximately 20 ppm
  • overall uncertainty: unknown
  • method reference: on-site air secondary (manufacturer)

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