Health Side Effect of Toluene Exposure at Work

Toluene exposure at work can cause a lot of side effects. Toluene is a volatile type of solvent. It has no color, can be burned, and aromatic. It is a natural component of crude oil and is a by-product when making gasoline and other fuels. This substance has a lot of uses as a solvent for thinner, glue, paint, lacquer, nail polish remover, and correction fluid. It is also used in making prints and in the processes involved tanning leather. It is widely available, inexpensive, and can easily be concealed. Hence, some places in the country have restricted selling of these substances to minors.

Recreational use

The medical field has not claimed any medical use for this substance. It is usually misused because of the strong effects on users. Recreational use of this substance is typical among young teenagers since it is widely available, low-cost, and not illegal.

Strength and purity

Solvents in a lot of industrial and commercially marketed products are typically combined. The individual who regularly sniffs solvents is frequently exposed to other substances aside from toluene. In work settings, unanticipated continual exposure to toluene can happen. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) assert that in the work setting of eight hours per day, they recommend only up to 200 ppm of exposure in workplace air.


Psychologically, the effects of exposure to toluene include lightheadedness, feelings of euphoria and grandiose, floating, sleepiness, inability to focus, slowed reaction, inaccurate perception of time and location, confused state, malaise, loss of memory, as well as hallucinations and delusions.

Physically, exposure to toluene includes irritation to eyes, nose, and throat, involuntary eye movement, headache, and inaudible speech. Exposure also results to lack of voluntary coordination of movement, unsteady gait, color vision damage, nausea and vomiting. Worst effects are respiratory depression, severe organ damage, coma, and death.

Too much exposure to toluene has effects concentrated on the central nervous system. Short term overexposure symptoms can wane within hours out of exposure. However, similar to ingestion of alcohol, the symptoms can also elevate one’s possibility of meeting road accident or while operating machinery. For severe cases, comatose and death can occur. Extremely high concentrations of toluene can cause very severe symptoms that are life threatening. Contact of the substance on skin may cause rashes and to the eyes may cause damage to it. Hence, it is vital to don goggles and protective clothing when using this substance.

Business or company owners ought to provide safety measures to avoid exposure to this toxic substance. If it is not possible to evade from exposure, the employers should make certain this is regulated. They are supposed to create a workplace setting that is properly ventilated and workers are given protective garment or equipment such as goggles, clothing, and protective gear so as not to inhale the toxic substance in the air, among others. Specialized precautionary measures are needed when the work is done within an area that is enclosed. Employers need to keep an eye on the exposure of employees and educate them in dealing with this type of solvent. The exposure limit provided by UK is fifty parts per million during an eight-hour work shift in a day. There should be specified rules in place aimed to secure the health of employees and prevent them from exposure to toxic chemicals and other substances at work.