Etylbensen, Etylbensen (C8H10)
Ethyl benzene is an aromatic hydrocarbon that belongs to the group volatile organic compounds (VOC). It is a very flammable, colourless liquid with a gasoline-like odour.1
Ethyl benzene is used to produce other chemicals. Almost all ethyl benzene used in Sweden is used for polystyrene production. Polystyrene is used for production of plastic and rubber. Ethyl benzene is also used as a solvent for paints and lacquers, as well as being an important constituent in motor fuels. It is also used in products for paint removal, thinners and detergents for household use.2
Sources and transportation pathways
Ethyl benzene is often present in small amounts in crude oil. It is also present in xylene and is one of the components of gasoline. It can also be found in tobacco smoke .3, 4
VOCs are emitted to air during incomplete combustion and by evaporation. In the past, the transport sector has been an important contributor to national emissions of VOCs, but as a result of effective measures (e.g. the introduction of catalysts) emissions from this sector have decreased substantially. Today, the most important source is evaporation from solvents within the sector product use.5, 6 The large point sources that contribute the most to national emissions of ethyl benzene to air are facilities within the energy sector.7 Ethyl benzene emitted to soil and water evaporates and is degraded in the air.8
Effects on environment and health
Ethyl benzene is not expected to accumulate in the environment. It is a very flammable liquid and gas. The substance may be lethal if ingested or if it gets into the respiratory tract. Ethyl benzene is harmful if inhaled and long-term or repeated exposure may cause damage to the organs (hearing organs).9,10
As a VOC, ethyl benzene can be involved in the formation of ground-level ozone. Ground-level ozone may damage vegetation and during episodes of elevated VOC levels, it may cause irritation of the respiratory tract in humans.
International agreements and regulations
The UN Protocol on PRTRs and the EU E-PRTR regulation regulate how data on ethyl benzene emissions is made available.
As a VOC, ethyl benzene is indirectly regulated by the UN Convention on Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution (CLRTAP) and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), as well as by the EU National Emissions Ceilings Directive (2001/81/EC) and the EU Industrial Emissions Directive (2010/75/EU).