MSDS Chemical Spotlight: Xylene

What is Xylene?

Xylene is a colorless liquid chemical with a somewhat greasy consistency. This chemical is present in small quantities in gasoline and other fuels, comprising approximately 0.5-1% of crude oil. Millions of tons of xylene are produced each year, as the chemical is used as a solvent in the printing, leather, and rubber industries. It is also used for:

  • Paint thinning
  • Cleaning metal and circuitry
  • The production of ink and adhesives
  • Ear wax removal products
  • Cooling baths for laboratory use

    Xylene’s major safety hazard is its flammability. As a result, it is important to use appropriate precautions when handling this chemical in the workplace.

    Potential Xylene Health Hazards

    In case of contact with the skin or eyes, xylene can lead to redness and irritation. If ingested, this chemical may cause moderate gastrointestinal upset, including abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting. Acute inhalation of the vapors can affect the central nervous system, causing headache, weakness, dizziness, loss of coordination, and difficulty breathing.

    Be sure to take adequate precautions to protect yourself from these possible hazards while handling xylene. In order to prevent accidental exposure to this potentially dangerous chemical, we recommend that you wear the following:

  • Splash goggles
  • Lab coat
  • Vapor respirator
  • Gloves

    In the event of a spill, use self-contained breathing equipment to avoid inhaling xylene vapors. Always wash your hands thoroughly after handling xylene or any hazardous chemical, and ensure quick access to eyewash stations in the workplace.

    First Aid for Xylene Exposure

    In the event of accidental exposure to xylene, seek immediate medical attention and follow these first aid guidelines:

  • Eye Contact: Remove contact lenses, if present. Flush eyes with plenty of water for 15 minutes or more.
  • Skin Contact: Flush skin with water. Use an emollient on any irritated skin and wash contaminated clothing before reuse.
  • Ingestion: Do NOT induce vomiting. Never give anything by mouth to an unconscious person. Loosen tight clothing and seek immediate medical help.
  • Inhalation: Loosen tight clothing and seek fresh air immediately. If breathing is difficult, administer oxygen. If breathing is absent, perform mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and get medical aid.

Storage & Disposal of Xylene 

Because xylene is extremely flammable, keep it stored in a segregated, approved area away from heat, spark, and sources of ignition. Keep away from incompatible materials, including oxidizing agents and acids. Ensure that the container is kept tightly closed and sealed until ready for use. Xylene, like any chemical, must be disposed of in accordance with local, state, and federal environmental regulations.

Need more safety information about Xylene or additional chemicals in your workplace? Check out our extensive MSDS database to learn more.

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