Occupational Health Hazards Of Methanol

What Is Methanol?

Methanol is a clear colourless liquid that is water soluble and readily biodegradable. Methanol is an alcohol; other common names for methanol include wood alcohol or methyl alcohol. Methanol is primarily used for industrial applications and to product chemical derivatives.

Is Methanol Dangerous?

Methanol is highly toxic, even in small amounts. Since it is classified as a hazard class 3 substance, it falls under the category of flammable liquids and vapors. Exposure to this hazardous substance can be extremely dangerous for workers. As a result, it’s essential to follow safety precautions due to methanol’s toxicity and flammability. 

Why Is Methanol Harmful?

Methanol liquid and vapours are extremely flammable. Methanol vapour is heavier than air. It can accumulate in low lying areas and in confined spaces. It is very toxic to human health. Methanol is potentially explosive if vapor is released and it is in contact with an ignition source. Methanol is also water soluble.

What Does Methanol Do to the Body?

Methanol can affect one’s health in a number of ways since exposures cause varying degrees of harm. The routes of exposure for methanol include contact with the eye or skin, inhalation and ingestion.

Contact with Eyes or Skin

Methanol is an eye and skin irritant.  Exposure to the eye can cause long-term damage. Repeated direct skin contact to methanol can cause dermatitis with dryness and cracking.

Methanol Inhalation  

Methanol is very toxic if inhaled. If inhaled will target certain organs and cause long term damage. Symptoms of methanol inhalation include cough, headache, dizziness, weakness, nausea, and visual disturbance.

Methanol Ingestion 

Methanol is very toxic if swallowed. Blindness can occur. Small amounts can be fatal. Symptoms of methanol ingestion include abdominal pain, shortness of breath, vomiting, convulsions and unconsciousness.   

Who Needs to Be Concerned About Methanol Hazards in the Workplace?

Methanol is usually found in household and industrial agents. However, it is primarily used in making other chemicals including plastics, paints, adhesives and plywood. It is also used as an antifreeze. It can be diluted and used for pressure testing. It is also used for producing biodiesel and in fuel cells.  

How to Prevent Methanol Poisoning in the Workplace 

If your business uses methanol for manufacturing purposes, it is important to have a methanol exposure control plan in place. For expert assistance, contact Chemscape Safety Technologies today to learn how we can help. We can provide guidance on safety measures and protocols related to methanol handling.


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