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Butanone is produced in large quantities. Nearly half of it is used in paints and other coatings because it will quickly evaporate. It dissolves many substances and is used as a solvent in processes involving gums, resins, cellulose acetate and nitrocellulose coatings and in vinyl films. It is also used in the synthetic rubber industry, and as a catalyst for polyester resin hardening. It is also used in manufacturing plastics, textiles, in the production of paraffin wax, and in household products such as lacquer, varnishes, paint remover, a denaturing agent for denatured alcohol, glues and as a cleaning agent. MEK is also used in dry erase markers as the solvent of the erasable dye. It is used for synthesis of methyl ethyl ketone peroxide, a catalyst for some polymerization reactions. It is highly flammable. It is not considered a large health threat.
The known health effects to people from exposure to butanone are irritation of the nose, throat, skin, and eyes. There are no known cases of any humans dying from breathing butanone alone. However, if butanone is breathed along with other chemicals that damage health, it can increase the amount of damage that occurs.
Serious health effects in animals have been seen only at very high levels. When breathed, these effects included birth defects (Schwetz et al. 1991. Fund. Appl. Toxicol. 16:742-748), loss of consciousness, and death. When swallowed, rats had nervous system effects including drooping eyelids and uncoordinated muscle movements. There was no damage to the ability to reproduce. Mice who breathed low levels for a short time showed temporary behavioral effects. Mild kidney damage was seen in animals that drank water with low levels of butanone for a short time.
There are no long-term studies with animals either breathing or drinking butanone.
Methyl ethyl ketone is listed as a Table II precursor under the United Nations Convention Against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances
Potential Health Effects ----------------------------------
Inhalation: Causes irritation to the nose and throat. Concentrations above the TLV may cause headache, dizziness, nausea, shortness of breath, and vomiting. Higher concentrations may cause central nervous system depression and unconsciousness. Ingestion: May produce abdominal pain, nausea. Aspiration into lungs can produce severe lung damage and is a medical emergency. Other symptoms expected to parallel inhalation. Skin Contact: Causes irritation to skin. Symptoms include redness, itching, and pain. May be absorbed through the skin with possible systemic effects. Eye Contact: Vapors are irritating to the eyes. Splashes can produce painful irritation and eye damage. Chronic Exposure: Prolonged skin contact may defat the skin and produce dermatitis. Chronic exposure may cause central nervous system effects. Aggravation of Pre-existing Conditions: Persons with pre-existing skin disorders or eye problems or impaired respiratory function may be more susceptible to the effects of the substance.
CHINA: CONSTRUCTION START-UP ON PLANNED $24,000,000 BUTANONE PLANT, CHINA PETROLEUM & CHEMICAL CORP. (SINOPEC) [CHINA] - Order #: 026602.
Feb 01, 2001; PROJECT OVERVIEW: China is currently dependent on the import of Butanone for its domestic needs. The material in question...