Everything to Know About the Hazards of Toluene

Everything to Know About the Hazards of Toluene

You may not be familiar with toluene; however, you’ve likely heard of the common products that contain it. Toluene is a colorless liquid with a strong odor. It’s found in items like paint, detergent, fingernail polish, printer ink, and more. 

It’s also a very flammable liquid, and products that contain it can emit fumes that can result in a variety of different ailments and even death. 

Let’s look into the symptoms of toluene exposure and talk about how you can reduce your risk of exposure. 

Symptoms of Toluene Exposure  

Toluene exposure typically occurs through contact with the skin, eyes, or inhalation. Toluene exposure affects areas such as the respiratory system, liver, central nervous system, skin, and eyes. 

Common symptoms of exposure include:

  • Irritated skin
  • Irritation to the nose and eyes
  • Exhaustion
  • Confusion
  • Muscle fatigue 
  • Tingling of the skin 

Coming into contact with a high concentration of toluene, such as through exposure in a confined area, could result in unconsciousness or death. 

How to Detect Toluene in the Workplace 

Now that you know the hazards and symptoms of toluene, it’s essential to learn how to detect its presence at work. That’s because it’s used in many products found in industrial work areas such as metal cleaners, adhesives, and more.

These products’ Safety Data Sheets (SDS) should indicate the presence of toluene, of which both employers and workers should be made aware of. 

Smell is another indicator of toluene presence. If you can smell it, that means it’s in the air. To ensure safety, air samples should be collected to make sure exposure is at acceptable exposure limits. 

Reduce Your Risks of Toluene Exposure 

To prevent toluene exposure, there are some protective measures you should be taking. Some of these include:

Substituting Products 

Substituting products that include toluene with water-based cleaning products will prevent exposure. This applies to paint products too. Rather than using toluene-based paint applications, swap these out for water-based solutions. 

Avoiding Spray Applications

To limit exposure to air, avoid the use of spray applications. Instead, you can use a brush or roller. If you must use a spray, do so in a well-ventilated area. 

Ensuring Proper Ventilation 

To reduce the risk of toluene inhalation, proper ventilation is critical. This includes ensuring the proper air volume in ventilated areas and using spray booths. 

Stay Safe By Following these Tips 

Toluene exposure can cause a variety of different health hazards, all of which are preventable by limiting exposure and being aware of when you are exposed to this dangerous chemical. 

Knowing the symptoms of toluene exposure and how to reduce your risk of exposure will keep you and your employees safe in the workplace. KHA can help keep you safe by helping you manage your organization’s safety data sheets. 

Sign up for a free demo today and see how we can help you make safety top of mind. 

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