Chemical Testing: Toluene

Properties and Uses
  • A clear, colourless liquid; it has a mildly unpleasant odour.

It is:

  • Widely used in petroleum and petrochemical industries.
  • A major component of gasoline
  • A solvent or thinner for paints, varnishes and adhesives
Sources
  • Vehicle exhausts
  • Solvent evaporation
  • Industrial emissions

Most exposure to toluene is through inhalation.

Short-term Health Effects
  • Toluene may be harmful if ingested, inhaled or if absorbed through the skin.
  • Moderate concentrations may cause fatigue, sleepiness, central nervous system depression, distorted perception, and decreased manual dexterity.
  • Higher concentrations may cause irritation of skin, eyes, nose and throat; possible burning sensation, coughing, shortness of breath, headache, nausea, vomiting.
Long-term Health Effects

Chronic exposure to higher concentrations of Toluene vapour have been associated with speech, vision and hearing problems, loss of muscle control, memory loss, poor balance, decreased mental ability and changes in kidney function.