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Xylene Xylene properties
Xylene Fire Safety Xylene Handling and
Storage Xylene Waste Removal
The following operations may
involve xylene and lead to worker exposures to this substance:
- Blending of motor and aviation fuels
- Use as a diluent or solvent in lacquers, varnishes, inks, paints, surface
coatings, dyes, adhesives, cleaning fluids, and rubber cements
- Use as a feedstock for xylidenes, benzoic acid, phthalic anhydride, and
isophthalic and terephthalic acids and their esters
- Manufacture of quartz crystal oscillators, hydrogen peroxide, perfumes, insect
repellents, dyes, pharmaceuticals, vitamins, and leather, and use as a
sterilizing agent for cat-gut
- Formulation of insecticides
- Use with Canada balsam as oil-immersion fluid in microscopy and as a cleaning
agent in laboratory applications
Methods that are effective in controlling worker exposures to xylene, depending
on the feasibility of implementation, are:
Working with Xylene
- Process enclosure
- Local exhaust ventilation
- General dilution ventilation
- Personal protective
This material is a FLAMMABLE AND VERY TOXIC liquid (POSSIBLE REPRODUCTIVE
HAZARD). Before handling, it is very important that engineering controls are
operating and that protective equipment requirements are being followed. People
working with this chemical should be properly trained regarding its hazards and
its safe use. Maintenance and emergency personnel should be advised of the
Eliminate all ignition sources (e.g. sparks, open flames, hot surfaces).
Immediately report leaks, spills or ventilation failures. Unprotected persons
should avoid all contact with this chemical including contaminated equipment.
Consider using closed handling systems for processes involving this material. If
a closed handling system is not possible use in the smallest possible amounts in
a well ventilated area separate from the storage area. Avoid generating vapors
or mists. Prevent the release of vapors and mists into the workplace air.
Keep away from heat. Post NO SMOKING signs. It is very important to keep
areas where this material is used clear of other materials which can burn.
Liquid can accumulate charge. Increase conductivity with additive designed for
that purpose, reduce flow rate in transfer operations, increase time the liquid
remains in transfer piping and/or handle at lower temperature. Electrically
ground all drums, transfer vessels, hoses and piping. Ground clips must contact
bare metal. When dispensing in other than a closed system, ensure dispensing
container is bonded to receiving transfer equipment and container. Never perform
any welding, cutting, soldering, drilling or other hot work on an empty vessel,
container or piping until all liquid and vapors have been cleared. To reduce the
fire/explosion hazard, consider the use of an inert gas in the container or
storage vessel. Use non-sparking ventilation systems, approved explosion-proof
equipment and intrinsically safe electrical systems in areas of use. Keep aisles
and exits free of obstruction. For large scale operations, consider the
installation of leak and fire detection equipment along with a suitable,
automatic fire suppression system.
Do not use with incompatible materials such as strong oxidizing agents (e.g.
peroxides, nitrates and perchlorates). These can increase the risk of fire and
Inspect containers for leaks before handling. Stand upwind of all opening,
pouring and mixing operations. To avoid splashing, carefully dispense into
sturdy containers made of compatible materials. Never transfer liquids by
pressurizing the original shipping containers with air or inert gas. Do not
dispense in storage area unless dispensing area is segregated by fire-resistant
construction. Only use portable containers and dispensing equipment (faucet,
pump, drip can) approved for flammable liquids. Never return contaminated
material to its original container. Label containers. Keep containers closed
when not in use. Avoid damaging containers. Assume that empty containers may
contain hazardous residues.
Follow handling precautions on Material Safety Data Sheet. Practice good
housekeeping. Maintain handling equipment in good, operating condition. Comply
with applicable regulations.
Conditions for respirator use
Good industrial hygiene practice requires that engineering controls be used
where feasible to reduce workplace concentrations of hazardous materials to the
prescribed exposure limit. However, some situations may require the use of
respirators to control exposure. Respirators must be worn if the ambient
concentration of xylene exceeds prescribed exposure limits. Respirators may be
used (1) before engineering controls have been installed, (2) during work
operations such as maintenance or repair activities that involve unknown
exposures, (3) during operations that require entry into tanks or closed
vessels, and (4) during emergency situations. If the use of respirators is
necessary, the only respirators permitted are those that have been approved by
NIOSH and the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA).
Respiratory protection program
Employers should institute a complete respiratory protection program. Such a
program must include respirator selection, an evaluation of the worker's ability
to perform the work while wearing a respirator, the regular training of
personnel, fit testing, periodic workplace monitoring, and regular respirator
maintenance, inspection, and cleaning. The implementation of an adequate
respiratory protection program (including selection of the correct respirator)
requires that a knowledgeable person be in charge of the program and that the
program be evaluated regularly. For additional information on the selection and
use of respirators and on the medical screening of respirator users, consult the
NIOSH Respirator Decision Logic [NIOSH 1987c] and the
NIOSH Guide to Industrial Respiratory Protection [NIOSH
Table 1 lists the respiratory protection that NIOSH recommends for workers
exposed to xylene. The recommended protection may vary over time because of
changes in the exposure limit for xylene or in respirator certification
requirements. Users are therefore advised to determine periodically whether new
information is available.
Personal Protective Equipment
Protective clothing should be worn to prevent skin contact with xylene.
Impervious gloves, boots, aprons, gauntlets, and other protective clothing are
recommended for use as necessary. Chemical protective clothing should be
selected on the basis of available performance data, manufacturers'
recommendations, and evaluation of the clothing under actual conditions of use.
The following materials have been recommended for use against permeation by
xylene and may provide protection for periods greater than 8 hours: polyvinyl
alcohol and Viton. Materials that may withstand permeation for more than 4 but
fewer than 8 hours are Teflon and polyethylene/ethylene vinyl alcohol [Forsberg
and Mansdorf 1989, p. 46]. Natural rubber, butyl rubber, neoprene, a nitrile
rubber and polyvinyl chloride mixture, nitrile rubber, polyethylene, polyvinyl
chloride, and a neoprene and natural rubber mixture have demonstrated poor
resistance to permeation by xylene.
If xylene is dissolved in an organic solvent, the permeation properties of both
the solvent and the mixture must be considered when selecting personal
protective equipment and clothing.
Safety glasses, goggles, or faceshields should be worn during operations in
which xylene might contact the eyes (e.g., through splashes of solution).
Eyewash fountains and emergency showers should be available within the immediate
work area whenever the potential exists for eye or skin contact with xylene.
Contact lenses should not be worn if the potential exists for xylene exposure.
The odor threshold for xylene is 1 part per million (ppm) parts of air. Xylene
is considered to have adequate warning properties.
Eye irritation properties
The eye irritation threshold for xylene is 200 ppm (870 mg/m(3)).
The current OSHA PEL for xylene is 100 ppm (435 milligrams per cubic meter
(mg/m(3)) of air) as an 8-hour time-weighted average (TWA) concentration. The
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recommended
exposure limits (RELs) for xylene are 100 ppm (435 mg/m(3)) as a TWA for up to a
10-hour workshift and a 40-hour workweek and 200 ppm (868 mg/m(3)) for 10
minutes as a short-term limit [NIOSH Recommendations, 1988]. The American
Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) has assigned xylene a
threshold limit value (TLV) of 100 ppm (435 mg/m(3)) as a TWA for a normal
8-hour workday and a 40-hour workweek and a short-term exposure limit (STEL) of
150 ppm (655 mg/m(3)) for periods not to exceed 15 minutes [ACGIH 1988, p. 42].
The OSHA and ACGIH limits are based on the risk of irritant, narcotic, and
chronic effects associated with exposure to xylene, and the NIOSH limit is based
on xylene's potential to cause central nervous system depression and respiratory
Routes of exposure of xylene
Exposure to xylene can occur via inhalation, ingestion, eye or skin contact,
and, to a small extent, by absorption through the skin.
This product is considered hazardous
according to regulatory guidelines.
Colorless Liquid. Flammable. Vapor accumulation
could flash and/or explode if ignited. DOT ERG No. : 130
Potential health Effects:
Skin irritation. Irritation to eyes, nose
and throat at exposure levels above 100 ppm. Respiratory
irritation, dizziness, nausea, loss of consciousness.
Respiratory distress, confusion and coma in cases of significant
overexposure. Excessive breathing of vapors can result in
temporary liver or kidney damage. Prolonged repeated skin
contact with low viscosity materials may defeat the skin resulting
in possible irritation and dermatitis. Swallowing may result in
severe gastrointestinal irritation.
The signs and symptoms of acute exposure to xylene include
headache, fatigue, irritability, lassitude, nausea, anorexia, flatulence,
irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat, and motor incoordination and
impairment of equilibrium. Flushing, redness of the face, a sensation of
increased body heat, increased salivation, tremors, dizziness, confusion,
and cardiac irritability have also been reported.
The signs and symptoms of chronic exposure to xylene
may include conjunctivitis; dryness of the nose, throat, and skin;
dermatitis; and kidney and liver damage.
flush thoroughly with water for at least 15 minutes. Get medical
injection injury warning: if product is injected into
or under the skin, or into any part of the body, regardless of
the appearance of the wound or its size, the individual should be evaluated
immediately by a physician as a surgical emergency.
Even though initial symptoms from high pressure injection may be minimal or
absent, early surgical treatment within the first few hours may
significantly reduce the ultimate extent of injury.
Wash contact areas with soap and water. Remove contaminated clothing.
Launder contaminated clothing before reuse.
Remove from further exposure. If respiratory irritation,
dizziness, nausea, or unconsciousness occurs, seek immediate medical
assistance. If breathing has stopped, assist ventilation with bag-valve-mask
device or use mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.
Seek immediate medical attention. Do not induce vomiting.
Note to physicians: pre-existing medical conditions which may be aggravated
by exposure: hydrocarbon solvents/petroleum hydrocarbons- skin contact may
aggravate an existing dermatitis.
Material if aspirated into the lungs may cause chemical
pneumonitis. Treat appropriately.
It is preferable that engineering methods are used to
control hazardous conditions. Methods include mechanical ventilation
(dilution and local exhaust), process or personnel enclosure, control of
process conditions, and process modification (e.g. substitution of a less
hazardous material). Administrative controls and personal protective
equipment may also be required.
Use a non-sparking, grounded ventilation system separate from other
exhaust ventilation systems. Exhaust directly to the outside, taking
necessary precautions for environmental protection. When there is large
scale use of this material, consider using a closed handling system
including local exhaust ventilation with process enclosure. Supply
sufficient replacement air to make up for air removed by exhaust systems.
Effects on Humans:
Xylene is an irritant of the eyes and mucous membranes at
concentrations below 200 ppm, and it is narcotic at high
concentrations. The estimated oral for humans is 50 mg/kg [EPA
Health Advisory, 1987, p. 4]. Of three workers exposed to xylene
concentrations of approximately 10,000 ppm for 18.5 hours, one died
and two recovered slowly after a period of unconsciousness and
retrograde amnesia; disturbances of liver and kidney function were
noted in these workers.
Ingestion of xylene causes gastrointestinal distress and may cause toxic
hepatitis. Aspiration of xylene or acute exposure to high vapor
concentrations of this substance may cause chemical pneumonitis,
hemorrhage into the air spaces, and pulmonary edema. A worker
exposed to the vapors of a solvent containing 75 percent xylene
(approximate airborne xylene concentration of 60 to 350 ppm)
developed giddiness, anorexia, and vomiting. After inhalation of
high concentrations of xylene, workers may become flushed, feel hot,
and experience confusion, dizziness, tremors, and other signs or
symptoms of central nervous system toxicity. Blood dyscrasias that
have proven fatal in at least one case are reported to have been the
result of chronic xylene exposure, but these hematopoietic effects
are now believed to have been caused by benzene, formerly a common
contaminant of xylene. Chronic exposure to xylene may cause central
nervous system depression, anemia, mucosal hemorrhage, bone marrow
hyperplasia, liver enlargement, liver necrosis, and nephrosis.
Repeated contact of the skin with xylene causes drying and
Signs and symptoms of exposure:
Acute exposure: The signs and symptoms of acute exposure to xylene
include headache, fatigue, irritability, lassitude, nausea,
anorexia, flatulence, irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat, and
motor incoordination and impairment of equilibrium. Flushing,
redness of the face, a sensation of increased body heat, increased
salivation, tremors, dizziness, confusion, and cardiac irritability
have also been reported.
Chronic exposure: The signs and symptoms of chronic exposure to
xylene may include conjunctivitis; dryness of the nose, throat, and
skin; dermatitis; and kidney and liver damage.
In the event of an emergency, remove the victim from further
exposure, send for medical assistance, and initiate the following
Eye exposure: If xylene or a solution containing xylene gets
into the eyes, immediately flush the eyes with large amounts of
water for a minimum of 15 minutes, lifting the lower and upper lids
occasionally. Get medical attention as soon as possible.
Skin exposure: If xylene or a solution containing xylene
contacts the skin, the contaminated skin should be washed with soap
and water. If irritation persists, get medical attention.
Inhalation: If xylene vapors are inhaled, move the victim at
once to fresh air and get medical care as soon as possible. If the
victim is not breathing, perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation; if
breathing is difficult, give oxygen. Keep the victim warm and quiet
until medical help arrives.
Ingestion: DO NOT INDUCE
VOMITING. If xylene or a solution containing xylene is
ingested, give the victim several glasses of water to drink. Get
medical help immediately. Keep the victim warm and quiet until
medical help arrives.
Rescue: Remove an incapacitated worker from further exposure
and implement appropriate emergency procedures (e.g., those listed
on the Material Safety Data Sheet required by OSHA's Hazard
Communication Standard, 29 CFR 1910.1200). All workers should be
familiar with emergency procedures and the location and proper use
of emergency equipment.
Exposure Sources and Control Methods
The following operations may involve xylene and lead to worker
exposures to this substance:
- Blending of motor and aviation fuels
- Use as a diluent or solvent in lacquers,
varnishes, inks, paints, surface coatings, dyes, adhesives,
cleaning fluids, and rubber cements
- Use as a feedstock for xylidenes, benzoic
acid, phthalic anhydride, and isophthalic and terephthalic acids
and their esters
- Manufacture of quartz crystal oscillators,
hydrogen peroxide, perfumes, insect repellents, dyes,
pharmaceuticals, vitamins, and leather, and use as a sterilizing
agent for cat-gut
- Formulation of insecticides
- Use with Canada balsam as oil-immersion
fluid in microscopy and as a cleaning agent in laboratory
Methods that are
effective in controlling worker exposures to xylene, depending on
the feasibility of implementation, are
- Process enclosure,
- Local exhaust ventilation,
- General dilution ventilation, and
- Personal protective equipment.
incapacitated worker from further exposure and implement appropriate emergency
procedures. All workers should be familiar with emergency procedures and the
location and proper use of emergency equipment.
If xylene contacts the
skin, workers should immediately wash the affected areas with soap and water.
Clothing contaminated with xylene should be removed immediately, and provisions
should be made for the safe removal of the chemical from the clothing. Persons
laundering the clothes should be informed of the hazardous properties of xylene,
particularly its potential to cause dryness and irritation of the skin.
A worker who handles xylene should thoroughly wash hands, forearms, and face
with soap and water before eating, using tobacco products, or using toilet
Workers should not eat, drink, or use tobacco products in areas where xylene is
handled, processed, or stored.
Report spills as required to appropriate authorities. U. S. Coast Guard
regulations require immediate
reporting of spills that could reach any waterway including intermittent dry
creeks. Report spill to Coast Guard toll free number (800) 424-8802. In case of
accident or road spill notify CHEMTREC (800) 424-9300.
Procedures If Material Is Released Or Spilled:
Eliminate all ignition sources. Adsorb on fire retardant treated sawdust,
diatomaceous earth, etc. Shovel up with spark-resistant shovel and remove to
appropriate waste disposal facility in accordance with current
applicable laws and regulations. For large spills: Contain material and pump
back to holding tank for later disposal.
Prevent spills from entering storm sewers for drains and contact with soil.