Agent Name


CAS Number




Major Category

Other Classes


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; [ToxPlanet: 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; [ExPub: 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]

Reference Link

ATSDR Medical Management - Phenol

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

0.4 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]

Half Life

Urine: 3.5 hours; [TDR, p. 1020]

Reference Link

ATSDR - ToxFAQs - Phenol

Adverse Effects

Other CNS Neurotoxin


Hepatotoxin, Secondary




Methemoglobinemia, Secondary


Skin Burns

IARC Carcinogen

Not Classifiable

ACGIH Carcinogen

Not Classifiable

Links to Other NLM Databases
Health Studies

Human Health Effects from Hazardous Substances Data Bank:

Toxicity Information


Chemical Information

Search ChemIDplus

Biomedical References

Search PubMed

Related Information in HazMap

Industrial Processes with risk of exposure:


Activities with risk of exposure: