Chemical Testing: Ethylbenzene

Properties and Uses

  • A clear, colourless liquid; it has a distinctive aromatic odour.
  • It is used as a petrochemical feedstock, particularly in the production of styrene.


  • It is a component of and is produced from crude oil; it is found in gasoline.
  • Emissions of Ethylbenzene from industry are primarily to air through process discharges and fugitive emissions from pumps, valves and seals.
  • Vehicle exhausts are major contributors to airborne Ethylbenzene.

Short-term Health effects

  • Low concentrations ? irritation of skin, eyes, nose, and throat.
  • Higher concentrations ? headache, nausea, dizziness, drowsiness, confusion, unconsciousness, possible death.

Ethylbenzene may be absorbed through the skin.

Long-term Health Effects

  • Repeated inhalation of Ethylbenzene may cause lung irritation, disorders of the central nervous system and of the upper respiratory tract, blood and liver.
  • Based on animal exposure studies, the International Agency for Cancer Research has classified Ethylbenzene as a possible carcinogen.