Jump to main content or area navigation.

Contact Us

Environmental Assessment

Summary Review of the Health Effects Associated with Phenol: Health Issue Assessment

Archive disclaimer
Archived files are provided for reference purposes only. The file was current when produced, but is no longer maintained and may now be outdated. Persons with disabilities having difficulty accessing archived files may contact the NCEA Webmaster for assistance. Please visit http://epa.gov/ncea to access current information.

Report Information

Larger production volume and natural sources of monohydroxybenzene, generically known as phenol, make exposure likely. Occupational and environmental exposure to phenol is largely restricted to source dominated areas, however. Based on monitoring data, ambient levels of phenol are extremely low compared with the present TLV (threshold limit value) of 5 ppm (19 mg/cu.m.). The STEL (short-term exposure level) for phenol is 10 ppm (38 mg/cu.m.). The estimated half-life of phenol is 0.5 day, and less than 1 minute in polluted atmospheres. The odor recognition threshold of phenol is 0.05 ppm (0.19 mg/cu.m.), a level far below the levels where toxic effects have been reported. Phenol is absorbed by animals and humans after oral, inhalation, or dermal exposure. Muscle weakness, convulsions, and coma are the predominant symptoms after exposure to lethal concentrations. After absorption, exogenous phenol is metabolized principally by the liver, and excretion occurs mainly via urine.

Jump to Table of Contents document
Technical Information Staff
  • by phone at:   703-347-8561
  • by fax at:   703-347-8691
  • by email at:  nceadc.comment@epa.gov


Bruce, R. Summary Review of the Health Effects Associated with Phenol: Health Issue Assessment. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, D.C., EPA/600/8-86/003F (NTIS PB86178076).


Jump to main content.