About Toluene

What is Toluene?

Also known as toluol, the chemical element is a colorless, sweet-smelling organic liquid. The chemical formula for toluene is CH3. It is an aromatic hydrocarbon that is mainly used as a solvent and an industrial feedstock.

What Types of Industrial Uses Does it Have?

The primary use for the clear organic liquid is toluene hydrodealkylation which converts toluene to benzene. The chemical element is also an essential ingredient in the production of explosives, foam, solvent, fuel, inhalant, and synthetic drugs. Toluene as a solvent is used in the production of paint thinner and contact cement. It is also used as a recreational inhalant for its intoxicating effect.

How Does Toluene Get into Your Drinking Water?

The common cause of toluene-contaminated water systems is due to runoff from petroleum factories. The improper storage and disposal of the organic liquid may lead to the release of the substance into the environment. Therefore, lakes, rivers, streams, ponds, private wells nearby, and other water systems are polluted in the process.

What are the Health Risks Associated with Toluene?

Individuals who were exposed to high levels of toluene in drinking water may experience health problems with their kidneys, liver, and nervous system. Short-term exposure to the contaminant in drinking water may lead to minor nervous system disorders. The exposed individual may experience weakness, fatigue, confusion, and nausea. Chronic exposure at levels above the MCL can cause serious health problems to the kidneys, liver, and nervous system.

How Common is Toluene in Water?

Toluene levels of above 0.5 mg/L are found in nearly 1% of public water systems in the USA. Since there are many uses for the chemical element, there are many factories that contribute to the release of this organic liquid into the environment.

What is the EPA’s Standards for Toluene in Drinking Water?

The EPA’s MCLG for the contaminant is 1mg/L or 1ppm in drinking water. Toluene levels above the MCLG must be addressed to avoid the health effects of the pollutant.

What is the Best Reduction Media for Removing Toluene from Drinking Water?

Granular activated carbon or GAC in water filter systems can reduce the levels of toluene in your drinking water. Water treatment systems like AquaOx’s whole house water filter can help prevent the health risks associated with the contaminant by eliminating toluene before it reaches your faucet. Get a water filter system today, and protect your family from the potential health threats of contaminants in your drinking water.

From The Agency of Toxic Substances and Disease Registry

CAS#: 108-88-3

Public Health Statement PDF PDF Version, 281 KB

Toluene is a clear, colorless liquid with a distinctive smell. It is a good solvent (a substance that can dissolve other substances). Toluene occurs naturally in crude oil and in the tolu tree. It is produced in the process of making gasoline and other fuels from crude oil and in making coke from coal.

Toluene is used in making paints, paint thinners, fingernail polish, lacquers, adhesives, and rubber and in some printing and leather tanning processes. It is used in the production of benzene, nylon, plastics, and polyurethane and the synthesis of trinitrotoluene (TNT), benzoic acid, benzoyl chloride, and toluene diisocyanate. It is also added to gasoline along with benzene and xylene to improve octane ratings.

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