What is Acetone
Acetone is a colorless and highly flammable manufactured liquid. It has a distinctive fruity or mint-like odor and a pungent taste. It is also found naturally in plants, trees, volcanic gases, and forest fires, and as a by-product of the breakdown of body fat. It is found in vehicle exhaust, tobacco smoke, and landfillsites.
Acetone is used as a solvent to dissolve other substances, such as paints, varnishes, lacquers, fats, oils, waxes, resins, printing inks, plastics, and glues. It is used to make plastics, fibers, drugs, rayon, photographic film, smokeless powder, and other chemicals. It is also used for cleaning and drying precision parts.
Household and consumer products that contain acetone include fingernail polish remover, particle board, paint remover, liquid or paste waxes and polishes, detergent, cleaning products, and rubber cement.
How might one be exposed to acetone?
You can be exposed to acetone by breathing it, ingesting it, or absorbing it through your skin. Exposure can occur if you smoke cigarettes, or breathe second-hand cigarette smoke. You can also be exposed if you are exposed to isopropyl alcohol, which has medical and solvent uses, because isopropyl alcohol changes to acetone in the body.
At home, you can be exposed to acetone by using nail polish remover, household cleaners, paints, adhesives, rubber cement, particle board, or other products that contain acetone. You can be exposed by drinking water or eating food containing acetone. Exposure can occur if you live near a landfill site that contains acetone, near busy roads, or near other facilities such as incinerators that release acetone emissions.
At work, you can be exposed to acetone if you work at a facility that manufactures paints, plastics, chemicals, artificial fibers, and shoes. You can also be exposed if you work with paints, solvents, glues, and commercial cleaning products.
How can acetone affect health?
Exposure to high levels of acetone can cause death, coma, unconsciousness, seizures, and respiratory distress. It can damage your kidneys and the skin in your mouth.
Breathing moderate-to-high levels of acetone for short periods of time can cause nose, throat, lung, and eye irritation. It can also cause intoxication, headaches, fatigue, stupor, light-headedness, dizziness, confusion, increased pulse rate, nausea, vomiting, and shortening of the menstrual cycle in women.
Breathing highly concentrated acetone vapors can irritate the respiratory tract, and burn your eyes. Skin contact with acetone can irritate or damage your skin.
Exposure to acetone can also cause low blood pressure, bronchial irritation, difficulty breathing, shortness of breath, abdominal pain, and an increased need to urinate.
What should I do if one is exposed to acetone?
If you breathe acetone, move to a place with fresh air. If the person exposed has trouble breathing, get medical help immediately.
If acetone is on your skin, wash with soap and water for at least 15 minutes. Take off any clothes or shoes with acetone on them. If your symptoms are very bad, get medical help.
If you get acetone in your eyes, flush your eyes with water for at least 15 minutes. Get medical attention promptly.
If you drink acetone, get medical attention immediately.
What factors limit use or exposure to acetone?
At work, it is best to have good ventilation. A mask can be worn for protection. Your manager or safety person can suggest the best protective masks to wear. Wear boots, gloves, a lab coat, apron or coveralls to prevent skin contact. Goggles or a face shield can protect you from accidental acetone splashes. Workplaces where acetone can be a problem should have an eye wash fountain or quick-drench system.
At home, limit exposure by staying away from cigarette smoke. Avoid solvents such as nail polish remover, paints and cleaning products containing acetone.