<< Back to Chemical Sampling Information

Chemical Sampling Information (CSI)
Search (use word(s)/phrase)
Table of Contents
By Name
A B C D E F G H I J K L M
N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

By CAS Number
Quick Links

General Description

Synonyms: Toluol; Phenyl methane; Methylbenzene

OSHA IMIS Code Number: 2460

Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS) Registry Number: 108-88-3

NIOSH Registry of Toxic Effects of Chemical Substances (RTECS) Identification Number: XS5250000

Department of Transportation Regulation Number (49 CFR 172.101) and 2012 Emergency Response Guidebook [4 MB PDF, 392 pages]: 1294 130

NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards - Toluene: Physical description, chemical properties, potentially hazardous incompatibilities, and more

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Hazard Summary - Toluene: Uses, sources and potential exposure, acute and chronic health hazard information, and more


Exposure Limits and Health Effects

Exposure Limit

Limit Values

HE Code

Health Factors and Target Organs

OSHA Permissible Exposure Limit (PEL) - General Industry
See 29 CFR 1910.1000 Table Z-2
(See also ANSI Z37.12-1967)

200 ppm TWA

300 ppm Ceiling

500 ppm Peak
(10 minutes)

HE7

Central nervous system depression, causing fatigue, headache, confusion, paresthesia, dizziness, and muscular incoordination

HE15

Irritation of the eyes, mucous membranes, and upper respiratory tract

OSHA PEL - Construction Industry
See 29 CFR 1926.55 Appendix A

200 ppm (750 mg/m3) TWA

HE7

Central nervous system depression, causing fatigue, headache, confusion, paresthesia, dizziness, and muscular incoordination

HE15

Irritation of the eyes, mucous membranes, and upper respiratory tract

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

200 ppm (750 mg/m3) TWA

HE7

Central nervous system depression, causing fatigue, headache, confusion, paresthesia, dizziness, and muscular incoordination

HE15

Irritation of the eyes, mucous membranes, and upper respiratory tract

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

100 ppm (375 mg/m3) TWA

150 ppm (560 mg/m3) STEL

HE7

Fatigue, weakness, confusion, headache, dizziness, drowsiness

HE8

Unconsciousness

HE15

Irritation of the eyes, respiratory tract, and skin

American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) Threshold Limit Value (TLV) (2007)

20 ppm
(75 mg/m3) TWA

A4; BEI

HE5

Female reproductive system damage and pregnancy loss

HE7

Central nervous system impairment and visual impairment

CAL/OSHA PELs

10 ppm
(37 mg/m3)
TWA

500 ppm Ceiling

150 ppm (560 mg/m3) STEL

Skin

HE5

Female reproductive toxicity, spontaneous abortion

HE7

Impaired color vision, impaired hearing, decreased performance in neurobehavioral analysis, changes in motor and sensory nerve conduction velocity, headache, and dizziness

National Toxicology Program (NTP) carcinogenic classification: Not listed

International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) carcinogenic classification: Group 3 (not classifiable as to its carcinogenicity to humans)

EPA carcinogenic classification: Inadequate information to assess carcinogenic potential

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

Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) Inhalation Minimal Risk Level (MRL): 1 ppm (acute); 0.08 ppm (chronic)

NIOSH Immediately Dangerous to Life or Health (IDLH) concentration: 500 ppm

Notes on Other Potential Health Effects and Hazards

  1. Vapor/air mixtures are explosive (NIOSH/IPCS 2002).
  2. Cardiac effects were shown in a case study involving acute occupational exposure to toluene (Türkoğlu et al. 2010).
  3. Genotoxic effects were shown in an occupational study involving chronic exposure to toluene (Manikantan et al. 2010).
  4. Fatal concentration is estimated to be 1,800 to 2,000 ppm over one hour (Hobara et al. 2000).
  5. A number of case reports showed developmental effects in infants born to women who were pregnant when exposed to toluene (Donald et al. 1991).
  6. An epidemiologic study found renal-urinary and gastrointestinal defects in infants born to women who were occupationally exposed to toluene during pregnancy (McDonald et al. 1987).
  7. One study found that workers exposed to toluene experienced color vision impairment (Zavalic et al. 1998).


Date Last Revised: 9/6/2012

Literature Basis

  • ACGIH: Documentation of the Threshold Limit Values (TLVs) and Biological Exposure Indices (BEIs) - Toluene. 2007.
  • California Occupational Safety & Health Standards Board: Initial [79 KB PDF, 14 pages] and Final [51 KB PDF, 7 pages] Statement of Reasons. March 17, 2012.
  • Donald, J. M., K. Hooper, et al. Reproductive and developmental toxicity of toluene: a review. Environ Health Perspect 94: 237-244, 1991.
  • Hobara, T., Okuda, M., Gotoh, M. Oki, K., Segawa, H. and Kunitsugo, I: Estimation of the lethal toluene concentration from the accidental death of painting workers. Ind. Health 38(2): 228-231, 2000.
  • Manikantan, P., Balachanadar, V., Sasikala, K., Mohanadevi, S., Arun, M., Kumar, A.K., Khan Mustaq Ahamed, S.A., Krishnan, B.B., and Kumar, S.S. Cytogenetic methods for assessing human exposure to toluene in Coimbatore, South India. Asian Pac J Cancer Prev. 11(6):1687-93, 2010.
  • McDonald, J.C., Lavoie J., Côté R., and McDonald A.D.: Chemical exposures at work in early pregnancy and congenital defect: a case-referent study. Br J Ind Med. 44(8): 527-533, August 1987.
  • NIOSH: Occupational Health Guideline for Toluene. 1978.
  • NIOSH/IPCS: International Chemical Safety Cards - Toluene. October 10, 2002.
  • Türkoğlu, C., Aliyev, F., Celiker, C., Uzunhasan, I., and Kocaş, C.: Slow heart-slow brain - consequence of short-term occupational exposure to toluene in a young woman: what is the real mechanism? Clin Cardiol. 33(2):E68-71, 2010.
  • Zavalic M, Mandic Z, Turk R et al.: Quantitative assessment of color vision impairment in workers exposed to toluene. Am J Ind Med 33(3):297-304, 1998.
Monitoring Methods used by OSHA

Laboratory Sampling/Analytical Method:

  • sampling media: Charcoal Tube (100/50 mg sections, 20/40 mesh)
    analytical solvent: Dimethylformamide/Carbon Disulfide (60:40)
    alternative solvent: Carbon Disulfide/Dimethylformamide (99:1)
    maximum volume: 12 Liters
    maximum flow rate: 0.05 L/min (TWA)
    minimum time: >10 minutes
    maximum flow rate: 0.05 L/min (Ceiling)
    minimum time: 1 minute
    maximum flow rate: 0.05 L/min (Peak)
    current analytical method: Gas Chromatography; GC/FID
    method reference: OSHA Analytical Method (OSHA 111)
    method classification: Fully Validated

  • sampling media: Anasorb 747 (140/70 mg sections)
    analytical solvent: Dimethylformamide/Carbon Disulfide (60:40)
    maximum volume: 12 Liters   
    maximum flow rate: 0.05 L/min (TWA)
    minimum time: >10 minutes   
    maximum flow rate: 0.05 L/min (Ceiling)
    minimum time: 1 minute   
    maximum flow rate: 0.05 L/min (Peak)
    current analytical method: Gas Chromatography; GC/FID
    method reference: OSHA Analytical Method (OSHA 111)
    method classification: Fully Validated

  • sampling media: Diffusive Sampler (SKC 575-002 Passive Sampler)
    analytical solvent: Dimethylformamide/Carbon Disulfide (60:40)
    minimum time: < or = 240 minutes (TWA)
    minimum time: > 10 minutes (Ceiling)
    current analytical method: Gas Chromatography; GC/FID
    method reference: OSHA Analytical Method (OSHA 111)
    method classification: Fully Validated

  • sampling media: Diffusive Sampler (3M 3520 Organic Vapor Monitor)
    analytical solvent: Dimethylformamide/Carbon Disulfide (60:40)
    minimum time: < or = 240 minutes (TWA)
    minimum time: > 10 minutes (Ceiling)
    current analytical method:
    Gas Chromatography; GC/FID
    method reference: OSHA Analytical Method (OSHA 111)
    method classification: Fully Validated

On-Site Sampling Techniques/Methods:

  • device: Detector Tube
    manufacturer: Gastec
    model/type: 122
    sampling information: 0.5 to 2 strokes
    upper measurement limit: 690 ppm
    detection limit: 1 ppm
    overall uncertainty: 16% for 10 to 100 ppm, 8% for 200 to 300 ppm
    method reference: on-site air secondary (SEI Certified)

  • device: Detector Tube
    manufacturer: Matheson-Kitagawa
    model/type: 8014-124SA
    sampling information: 1 stroke
    upper measurement limit: 500 ppm
    detection limit: approximately 5 ppm
    overall uncertainty: unknown
    method reference: on-site air secondary (SEI Certified)

** All Trademarks are the property of their respective owners.


Accessibility Assistance: Contact the OSHA Directorate of Technical Support and Emergency Management at (202) 693-2300 for assistance accessing PDF materials.