Dinted Stale*       EPA 749 F 94 O21
       Environmental Prelection  DecemDei 1994
       Agency


       Office ol Pollution Pievenlon and Toaic* (7401)



oERA Chemicals in the


       Environment
       TOLUENE
       (CAS NO. 108 88 3)



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Chemicals can  be  released  lo  the  envi-
ronment  as  a  rcsull  of their  manufacture.
processing, and  use   The EPA has devel-
oped  information summaries  on selected
chemicals lo describe how you  might be
exposed (o these chemicals, how exposure
lo I hem  might  affect you and  the  envi-
ronment, what happens to them in the cn-
\ironinent. who  regulates them, and whom
lo contact for additional information. EPA
is committed  to reducing environmental
releases of chemicals through source  re-
duction and  other  practices  thai reduce
creation of pollutants

   WHAT IS TOLUENE, HOW IS IT
   USED, AND HOW MIGHT I BE
              EXPOSED?

        Toluene (also called  methyl bcn-
/cnc)  is a colorless,  flammable liquid.   It
occurs naturally in  petroleum crude oil
Petroleum crude oil  is by  far the largest
source of toluene   Most (up  to a billion
pounds each year) of this toluene is never
isolated from crude oil  Refineries pump
this "unrccovered" toluene lo  some  other
location where it is added directly lo gaso-
line   The toluene thai is isolated is "re-
covered" in  large amounts (approximately
80(1 million gallons  in 1991) by  twenty
companies in the United States.   US de-
mand   for toluene is  expected  to  grow
moderately over the next several years The
largest users of "recovered"   toluene are
companies thai make  ben/ene   Companies
also add toluene to  aerosol  spray paints,
wall  paints,  lacquers, paml strippers  ad-
hcsivcs. printing ink.  spot removers, cos-
metics, perfumes, and antifreeze

        Exposure lo  toluene can occur in

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ihc workplace or in the environment following
releases lo air. walcr. land,  or  groundwalcr
Exposure  can aJso occur  when  people use
gasoline and  other products thai  contain tolu-
ene  Toluene enters the body when breathed in
with contaminated air  or when consumed with
contaminated Pood or water   It can also be
absorbed through skin contact  Toluene docs
not remain in  the body due to its breakdown and
removal
   WHAT HAPPENS TO TOLUENE IN
          THE ENVIRONMENT?

        Toluene evaporates when exposed to
air. It dissolves only slightly when mixed with
water   Most direct releases of toluene to the
environment are to air  Toluene also evaporates
from water and soil exposed lo air  Once in air,
toluene  breaks down to other  chemicals  Mi-
croorganisms that live in walcr and in soil can
also break down toluene.  Because it is a liquid
that docs  not bind well  to soil, toluene  that
makes its way into the ground can move through
the ground and enter  groundwalcr  Plants and
animals arc not likely to store toluene

   HOW DOES TOLUENE AFFECT
     HUMAN HEALTH AND THE
            ENVIRONMENT?

        H fleets of toluene on human health and
the environment depend on how much  toluene
is  present and  Ihc  length  and frequency of
exposure  Effects also depend on the health of
a person or  the condition of the environment
when exposure occurs.

        Breathing large amounts of toluene for
short  periods of time adversely affects  the
human nervous  system, the kidncvs. the liver.

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and the heart   EflTccts range from un-
steadiness and  tingling  in fingers and
toes to  unconsciousness and death
Direct, prolonged contact with toluene
liquid or vapor irritates the skin and the
eyes   These effects are not likely to
occur  at  levels  of toluene that arc
normally found in the environment

        Human  health  effects  associ-
ated with breathing or otherwise  con-
suming smaller amounts of toluene over
long periods of time arc not known.
Repeatedly breathing  large amounts of
toluene, such as when "sniffing" glue or
paint, can cause permanent brain  dam-
age. As a result, humans can develop
problems with  speech,  hearing,  and
vision    Humans can also experience
loss of muscle control, loss of memory.
and decreased mental ability   Exposure
to toluene can also adversely affect the
kidneys  Laboratory animal studies and,
in some cases, human exposure studies
show that repeat  exposure to  large
amounts of toluene during  pregnancy
can adversely affect the developing fe-
tus   Other studies show  that repeal
exposure to large amounts  of toluene
adversely affects the  nervous system.
the kidneys, and the liver of animals

        Toluene by itself is not likely to
cause  environmental  harm   at levels
normally  found in  the  environment.
Toluene can contribute to the formation
of photochemical smog when it reacts
with  other volatile  organic  carbon
substances in air

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WHAT EPA PROGRAM omen REGULATE TOLUENE, AND UNDER WHAT LAWS is rr REGULATED
     EPAOmci
     Pollution Prevention & Toxics
     Air
     Solid Waste &
      Emergency Reaponte
     Water
LAW
Toxic Substance* Control Act
Emergency Flaming and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA). Regulations (313)
  Tone* Release Inventory data
Clean Air Act
Comprehensive Environment*! Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (Superfund)
Resource Conservation and Recovery Act / EPCRA (f 304/3 11312)
Clean Water Act
Safe Drinking Water Act (Drinking Water Standard: l.Omg/L)
     A technical support document u available from the TSCA AMtfUoce Information Service. (202) 554-1404.

WHAT OTHER FEDERAL AGENCIES OR GROUPS CAN I CONTACT FOR INFORMATION ON TOLUENE?
    AGENCY/GROUP
    Agency for Toxic Substances and Dueue Registry
    American Conference of Government*] Indujthal Hygienifti
    Consumer Product Safety Commnuon
    Food and Drug Administration
    National Institute for Environment*! He*tth Sciences (EnviroHealth Clearinghouse)
    National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)
    Occupational Safety and Health Administration
PHONE NUMBER
 (202) 554-1404
 (800)535-0202
 (202)260-1531
 (919) 541-0888
 (800)535-0202

 (202)260-7588
 (800)426-4791
                                          PHONE NUMBER
                                          (404) 639-6000
                                          (513)742-2020
                                          (301)504-0994
                                          (301)443-3170
                                          (800)643-4794
                                          (800) 356-4674
                                          (Check your local phone book under US Department of Labor)

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