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Technical guidance on toluene

june 2018- Relevant for:  Hardlines, Softlines, Children's products

What is it?
Toluene is a volatile organic compound which is made of carbon and hydrogen. This organic compound is a clear, colourless liquid at room temperate and pressure. It can be found naturally in fossil fuels e.g. crude oil or coal. One of the major use of toluene is a fuel additive in motor vehicles and it is a good solvent in paints, coatings, adhesives and cleaning agents, etc. It is also used as a starting material to synthesise other chemicals and polymers.

Potential hazard:
Short-term exposure to toluene can cause headaches, dizziness and loss of coordination or hearing. It is also an irritant to eyes and noses. Toluene is harmful to the nervous system and children are especially vulnerable to this toxic. Immune system, kidneys and liver can be affected by toluene exposure as well.

Commonly found in: 
Toluene is widely used in various industries. It can be commonly found in chemical products e.g. paints, paint thinners, inks. It can also be found in different consumer products e.g. adhesive tape, polystyrene-based resins buttons, products made of synthetic leather.

Related legislation (non-exhaustive)

  • European Union
    • REACH Annex XVII, entry 48
    • Toy Safety Directive
  • USA
    • Federal Hazardous Substances Act (FHSA)
  • Chile
    • Decree No 754 of 1998 (Toluene in Adhesives and Glue)
    • Decree No 114 of 2005 (Regulations on Toys Safety)

Maximum limits:

    • European Union
      • REACH Annex XVII entry 48
        • Substance: Not used
        • Mixtures in adhesive or spray paints intended for supply to the general public: 0.1% by weight
      • Toys Safety Directive 2009/48/EC
        • Toluene is classified as toxic to reproduction category 2, Toys and its parts: 3.0 % by weight  
    • USA
      • FHSA
        • Liquid components and liquid-filled items designed or intended to be used by individuals containing benzene above 5% of require special labelling
    • Chile
      • Decree No 754 of 1998 (Toluene in Adhesives and Glue)
        • Adhesive and glue: 0.5% by weight
      • Decree No 114 of 2005 (Regulations on Toys Safety)
        • Toys: 170 mg of toluene per kg of toy

How can TÜV SÜD help?

TÜV SÜD has a dedicated technical solutions team to support you with root cause analysis, problem identification, suggestions for improvement and failure minimisation.

  • Training and seminar on understanding the RSL (Restricted Substance List) and MRSL (Manufacturing Restricted Substance List)
  • Testing services on raw materials and final products 
  • Being part of the Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals (ZDHC) programme, we review the entire value chain of footwear and textiles

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