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Subchapter 7. General Industry Safety Orders
Group 16. Control of Hazardous Substances
Article 110. Regulated Carcinogens

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§5218. Benzene, Appendix B

Substance Technical Guidelines, Benzene

I. Physical and Chemical Data

A. Substance identification.

1. Synonyms: Benzol, benzole, coal naphtha, cyclohexatriene, phene, phenyl hydride, pyrobenzol. (Benzin, petroleum benzin and Benzine do not contain benzene.)

2. Formula: C6H6 (CAS Registry Number: 71-43-2)

B. Physical data.

1. Boiling Point (760 mm Hg): 80.1°C (176°F)

2. Specific Gravity (water = 1): 0.879

3. Vapor Density (air = 1): 2.7

4. Melting Point: 5.5°C (42°F)

5. Vapor Pressure at 20°C (68°F): 75 mm Hg

6. Solubility in Water: .06

7. Evaporation Rate (ether = 1): 2.8

8. Appearance and Odor: Clear, colorless liquid with a distinctive sweet odor.

II. Fire, Explosion, and Reactivity Hazard Data

A. Fire.

1. Flash Point (closed cup): -11°C (121°F)

2. Autoignition Temperature: 580°C (1076°F)

3. Flammable Limits in Air. % by Volume: Lower: 1.3%, Upper: 7.5

4. Extinguishing Media: Carbon dioxide, dry chemical, or foam.

5. Special fire-fighting procedures: Do not use solid stream of water, since stream will scatter and spread fire. Fine water spray can be used to keep fire-exposed containers cool.

6. Unusual fire and explosion hazards: Benzene is a flammable liquid. Its vapors can form explosive mixtures. All ignition sources must be controlled when benzene is used, handled, or stored. Where liquid or vapor may be released, such areas shall be considered as hazardous locations. Benzene vapors are heavier than air; thus the vapors may travel along the ground and be ignited by open flames or sparks at locations remote from the site at which benzene is handled.

7. Benzene is classified as a 1 B flammable liquid for the purpose of conforming to the requirements of article 136 of these Orders. A concentration exceeding 3,250 ppm is considered a potential fire explosion hazard. Locations where benzene may be present in quantities sufficient to produce explosive or ignitable mixtures are considered Class I Group D for the purposes of conforming to the requirements of article 59 of the Low-Voltage Electrical Safety Orders.

B. Reactivity.

1. Conditions contributing to instability: Heat.

2. Incompatibility: Heat and oxidizing materials.

3. Hazardous decomposition products: Toxic gases and vapors (such as carbon monoxide).

III. Spill and Leak Procedures

A. Steps to be taken if the material is released or spilled. As much benzene as possible should be absorbed with suitable materials, such as dry sand or earth. That remaining must be flushed with large amounts of water. Do not flush benzene into a confined space, such as a sewer, because of explosion danger. Remove all ignition sources. Ventilate enclosed places.

B. Waste disposal method. Disposal methods must conform to other jurisdictional regulations. If allowed, benzene may be disposed of: (a) by absorbing it in dry sand or earth and disposing in a sanitary landfill; (b) if small quantities, by removing it to a safe location from buildings or other combustible sources, pouring it in dry sand or earth and cautiously igniting it; and (c) if large quantities, by atomizing it in a suitable combustion chamber.

IV. Miscellaneous Precautions

A. High exposure to benzene can occur when transferring the liquid from one container to another. Such operations should be well ventilated and good work practices must be established to avoid spills.

B. Use non-sparking tools to open benzene containers which are effectively grounded and bonded prior to opening and pouring.

C. Employers must advise employees of all plant areas and operations where exposure to benzene could occur. Common operations in which high exposures to benzene may be encountered are: the primary production and utilization of benzene, and transfer of benzene.

NOTE: Authority cited: Sections 142.3, 9020, 9030 and 9040, Labor Code. Reference: Sections 142.3, 9004(d), 9009, 9020, 9030, 9031 and 9040, Labor Code.


1. New section 5218 and Appendices A-E filed 4-20-90; operative 5-20-90 (Register 90, No. 23).

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