Agent Name
CAS Number
Major Category
Other Classes
Phenol formula graphical representation
Liquid phenol; Phenol, pure; Benzene, hydroxy-; Phenol (or solutions with 5% or more phenol); Phenol solutions; Phenol, molten; Phenol, solid; Acide carbolique [French]; Baker's P & S liquid & Ointment; Baker's P and S Liquid and Ointment; Benzenol; Carbolic acid; Carbolsaure [German]; Fenol [Dutch, Polish]; Fenolo [Italian]; Hydroxybenzene; Izal; Monohydroxybenzene; Monophenol; Oxybenzene; Paoscle; Phenic acid; Phenol alcohol; Phenol, liquefied; Phenole; Phenole [German]; Phenyl alcohol; Phenyl hydrate; Phenyl hydroxide; Phenylic acid; Phenylic alcohol; PhOH; [ChemIDplus] UN1671 (solid); UN2312 (molten); UN2821 (solution)
Colorless to light-pink, crystalline solid with a sweet, acrid odor. [Note: Phenol liquefies by mixing with about 8% water.] [NIOSH] Pure form is liquefied by water absorbed from the air; [CPS&Q: RARs - Final Report]
Used in organic synthesis and as a disinfectant; [ACGIH] Used mainly as an intermediate for chemicals and resins; Also used in cosmetics, medical preparations, non-agricultural biocides, adhesives, binders, impregnating agents, paints, lacquers, varnishes, solvents, flooring, hardeners, and insulating materials; [CPS&Q: RARs - Final Report] Used as a flavoring agent; [FDA] Other uses include reagent in chemical analysis, in germicidal paints and slimicides, as a preservative for pharmaceutical injections, and in human and veterinary medicine; [HSDB]
Phenol >70% is corrosive to skin. [Quick CPC] Solutions of <5 % are strong irritants. Solutions of >5 % are corrosive. "Even dilute solutions (1% to 2%) may cause severe burns if contact is prolonged." Kidney injury has been reported after workplace exposure. "Damage to the nervous system is the primary cause of death from phenol poisoning." Affected patients may have seizures and coma within a few minutes to few hours after exposure. [ATSDR Medical Management] Hepatic injury and methemoglobinemia have been reported in cases of phenol poisoning by ingestion. "Workers or volunteers exposed at or below 5.3 ppm have experienced no ill effects." Phenol can cause systemic effects after absorption through the skin. [ACGIH] Phenol skin burns are typically white-colored and painless. [AHLS, p. 114] Fatalities after skin exposure have been reported (concentrated phenol to >25% body surface area). [CHEMINFO] A corrosive substance that can cause injury to the skin, eyes, and respiratory tract; Inhalation may cause pulmonary edema; May cause convulsions, coma, collapse, cardiac disorders, and respiratory failure; Readily absorbed through skin; [ICSC] Safe when used as a flavoring agent in food; [JECFA] A vesicant that is rapidly absorbed through skin; Causes burns; Inhalation may cause corrosive injuries to upper respiratory tract and lungs; Toxic by ingestion, inhalation, and skin absorption; Targets the CNS, kidney, liver, pancreas, and spleen; [Sigma-Aldrich MSDS]
Biomedical References

Exposure Assessment

Total phenol in urine = 250 mg/g creatinine; end of shift;
Skin Designation (ACGIH)
5 ppm
5 ppm
250 ppm
Excerpts from Documentation for IDLHs
In rats, an exposure of 312 ppm for 1 hour only resulted in lacrimation and eye and nasal irritation; a slight loss of coordination was reported within 4 hours of exposure to 230 ppm [Flickinger 1976];\ Human data: It has been stated that the toxicity of phenol is closely related to that of cresol [ACGIH 1991]. It has been reported that 14 to 140 mg/kg is the lethal oral dose [Deichmann and Gerarde 1969; Lefaux 1978]. [Note: An oral dose of 14 to 140 mg/kg is equivalent to a 70­kg worker being exposed to 167 to 1,670 ppm for 30 minutes, assuming a breathing rate of 50 liters per minute and 100% absorption.]
Vapor Pressure
0.35 mm Hg
Odor Threshold Low
0.0045 ppm
Odor Threshold High
1 ppm
166 ppm
Lethal Concentration
LC50 (rat) = 316 mg/m3 (duration not stated);
Explanatory Notes
Detection odor threshold from AIHA (mean = 0.060 ppm); Flash point = 175 deg F; [CHEMINFO] VP from HSDB;
Half Life
Urine: 3.5 hours; [TDR, p. 1020]
Reference Link #2
high ambient temp required
10 ppm
50 ppm
200 ppm

Adverse Effects

MetHgb is secondary toxic effect
Other CNS neurotoxin
Hepatoxic (a) from occupational exposure (secondary effect) or (b) in animal studies or in humans after ingestion
Skin burns
IARC Carcinogen
Not classifiable
ACGIH Carcinogen
Not Classifiable

Diseases, Processes, and Activities Linked to This Agent