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Toluene is used as an additive and solvent in numerous industries and can have negative effects on the nervous system. Sniffing paint, glue or gas makes the health effects of toluene observable.

Toluene is also known as methylbenzene, methylbenzol, phenylmethane, and toluène. Some grades of toluene contain traces of xylene and benzene.


Toluene is used to make the following chemicals:

Toluene is found in the following products:

  • Explosives
  • Dyes
  • Inks
  • Paints
  • Lacquers
  • Resins
  • Cleaners
  • Glues and adhesives.
  • Gasoline and aviation fuel


Human Health Effects

  • Toluene is harmful if inhaled or swallowed and is a central nervous system depressant.
  • The vapor may cause headache, nausea, dizziness, drowsiness, confusion and poor coordination.
  • Toluene causes skin and eye irritation.
  • It is an aspiration hazard and swallowing or vomiting of the liquid may result in aspiration into the lungs.
  • High levels of toluene may affect kidney function.
  • Breathing high levels of toluene during pregnancy can result in children with mental disabilities.

Environmental Effects

  • Half-life: soil=several hours-71 days; river=1 hour; lake=4 days.
  • Toluene has a low to moderate potential for bioconcentration in aquatic organisms.


Agency for Toxic Substance and Disease Registry- Toluene

Hazardous Substances Data Bank- Toluene

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