Agent Name

Methyl formate

Alternative Name

Formic acid, methyl ester

CAS Number

107-31-3

Formula

C2-H4-O2

Major Category

Solvents

Synonyms

Methyl ester of formic acid; Methyl methanoate; Formic acid, methyl ester; [NIOSH] UN1243

Category

Esters (<C12)

Description

Colorless liquid with a pleasant odor. [Note: A gas above 89 degrees F.] [NIOSH]

Sources/Uses

Used as a solvent (cellulose acetate and quick drying finishes), fumigant and larvacide (food and tobacco crops), and chemical intermediate; Also used as a refrigeration solvent, blowing agent for foam insulation, and binding agent in mold cores in iron foundries; [ACGIH]

Comments

TLV Basis is CNS impairment, upper respiratory tract irritation, and eye damage. In animal inhalation studies, narcosis, pulmonary edema, and death occur at concentrations in the range of 5000 ppm to 10,000 ppm for one to three hours of exposure. Human volunteers exposed to 100 ppm for 8 hours have increased fatigue. Foundry workers exposed to 36 ppm had no adverse effects. Methyl formate breaks down into methanol and fomric acid. Formic acid causes optic neuropathy in cases of methanol poisoning. Exposure to methyl formate at 50 ppm is equivalent to methanol exposure at the TLV. [ACGIH] Intravenous doses of approximately 4g/kg cause significant methemoglobinemia in experimental dogs. [HSDB] No reported cases of toxic pneumonitis in humans; May cause slight skin irritation; [CHEMINFO] A skin and eye irritant that causes CNS effects at high concentrations; [ICSC]

Exposure Assessment
Skin Designation (ACGIH)

Yes

TLV (ACGIH)

50 ppm

STEL (ACGIH)

100 ppm

PEL (OSHA)

100 ppm

MAK

50 ppm

IDLH (NIOSH)

4500 ppm

Excerpts from Documentation for IDLHs

No adverse effects were found in humans after exposure to 1,500 ppm for 1 minute [Schrenk et al. 1936].

Vapor Pressure

476 mm Hg

Odor Threshold Low

67 ppm

Odor Threshold High

2809 ppm

Lethal Concentration

LC50 (rat) = 5,200 mg/m3/4H

Explanatory Notes

Detection odor threshold from AIHA (mean = 2000 ppm); Flash point = -2 deg F; [CHEMINFO]

Reference Link

ICSC: Methyl formate

Adverse Effects
Toxic Pneumonitis

Yes

Neurotoxin

CNS Solvent Syndrome

Methemoglobinemia

Methemoglobinemia, Secondary

Links to Other NLM Databases
Health Studies

Human Health Effects from Hazardous Substances Data Bank:

Toxicity Information

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Chemical Information

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Biomedical References

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Related Information in HazMap
Diseases

Occupational diseases associated with exposure to this agent:

Processes

Industrial Processes with risk of exposure:

Activities

Activities with risk of exposure: