IAQ UK is an independent organisation with the aim of 'raising the agenda of indoor air quality within the home and workplace'

IAQUK Resources - Ethylbenzene

Source of pollution


It exists naturally in petroleum, and is also an industrial chemical with a variety of uses, including as a precursor for the production of polystyrene foam.


Ethylbenzene is often found in mixed Xylene solvents (at up to 25%) which are used in paints, coatings, lacquers, varnishes, adhesives, inks, insecticides, cleaning materials, dyes, perfumes, pharmaceuticals, rubber and plastics.


Health effects

At a vapour concentration of 200 ppm, it causes transient irritation effects on the eyes; at 1,000 ppm, there is tearing and irritation; at 2,000 ppm, tearing and eye irritation are severe and nasal irritation is evident; at 5,000 ppm, there is intolerable irritation of the eyes and nose.


Chronic exposure to a concentration above 100 ppm causes fatigue, headache, and mild eye and respiratory tract irritation.   Symptoms of fatigue, drowsiness, staggering gait, and incoordination.  It is also believed damage may occur to the kidneys.


Ethylbenzene is found in the blood, urine, breath, and some body tissues of exposed people. The most common way to test for Ethylbenzene is in the urine. This test measures substances formed by the breakdown of Ethylbenzene. Because these substances leave the body very quickly, this test needs to be done within a few hours after exposure occurs.

Technical - Ethylbenzene - C6H5CH2CH3

  • Belongs to BTEX a substance group
  • Clear colourless, flmmable liquid
  • Petrol odour
  • Detectable in the air at 2.5ppm
  • CAS Number: 100-41-4
  • LTEL - 100ppm (441mg/m³)
  • STEL - 125ppm (552mg/m³)
  • Risk Phrases: R11, 20, 36, 37, 38
  • Safety Phrases: S16, 24, 25, 29

Ethlybenzene (also known as phenylethane, EB, ethylbenzol).


Ethylbenzene is an aromatic hydrocarbon and associated with a substance group of  BenzeneToluene, (Ethylbenzene) and Xylene (BTEX) colourless liquid with a sweet petrol-like odour. It is only slightly soluble in water, but is soluble in ethanol and a range of other organic solvents.