Toluene is insoluble in water. It smells like paint thinners. Toluene belongs to the class of aromatic hydrocarbons. As it falls in the category of CH3 group that is further attached to one of the phenyl groups, “methylbenzene” is its IUPAC systematic name. The industrial verticals driving the toluene market include feedstock and solvents. Toluene is a derivative of mono-substituted benzene. It also occurs naturally in tolu tree and crude oil.
The healthcare industry finds toluene’s presence in the form of a recreational inhalant. However, it is likely to cause sheer neurological harm. As such, toluene needs to be used with utmost care in the healthcare industry. The other applications of toluene include leather tanning and printing processes, rubber, adhesives, and fingernail polish. The APAC is the leading market for toluene; thanks to its usage in synthesis of benzoic acid, TNT (trinitrotoluene), toluene diisocyanate, and benzoyl chloride.
However, considering the health concerns, the federal government of the U.S. has set regulations. The regulations come under the gambit of EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), the FDA (Food and Drug Administration), and OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration). The regulations set up are expressed in the form of “not-to-exceed levels”. Therefore, as per EPA, the upper limit set up for toluene in drinking water is 1 mg/L.
For those working for 8+ hours a day, the maximum legal limit set up for toluene in the air is 200 ppm. For those working 10+ hours a day, the upper limit set up by NIOSH (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health) for toluene in the air is 100 ppm. As per ACGIH (Association Advancing Occupational and Environmental Health), toluene content in air, especially for people working for 8+ hours every single day, should not cross 20 ppm. You could state that toluene is a double-edged sword. If used carefully; it would give out beneficial chemicals. If inhaled unnecessarily; you would risk your own life. Now, the choice is yours !!!!