Fact sheet: Ethylbenzene

From: Public Services and Procurement Canada

Discover a list of a contaminant's important chemical properties, how it will react in the environment, main sources of contamination related, and a brief overview of health and safety issues.

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General information

CAS number


Molecular formula


Formula weight

106.2 g/mol


Monocyclic aromatic hdrocarbons (MAH)

Properties (at room temperature where applicable)

Compound properties list
Melting/boiling point -94 °C / -136 °CLiquid
Relative density0.86 g/cm3Floats on water
Vapour pressure8 mm HgModerately volatile
Vapour density3.7Denser than air
Solubility in water180 mg/LLow solubility
Henry's law constant6 x 10-3 atm·m3/molRapid volatilization when dissolved
log Koc (Depending on soil or sediment characteristics)2.2 - 2.7*Moderate adsorption to organic matter

Environmental behaviour

At 20 0C, ethylbenzene is a liquid that floats on water and is moderately volatile. Characterized by its low solubility, it will volatilize rapidly once dissolved and moderately adsorbs to organic matter. During a spill, this compound will evaporate in part but the majority of the product will enter into the soil or drain into a waterway. Liquid ethylbenzene can accumulate along the capillary fringe (groundwater) or form a film on the water's surface which will promote its solubilization and volatilization. The adsorbed ethylbenzene in the vadose and saturated zones will take some time to disappear, liberating contamination primarily in either the gaseous but also in the dissolved state. The resulting plumes (gaseous or dissolved) will be relatively limited in size.

Health and safety

Ethylbenzene should be handled with care as it is flammable and toxic.

Principal resources

Ethylbenzene is an aromatic hydrocarbon naturally present in crude petroleum, but it is primarily produced by reacting benzene with ethylene. Ethylbenzene is widely distributed in the environment because it is a component of aviation and automotive fuels, used as a solvent, and used in many chemical manufacturing and production processes. The major industrial use of ethylbenzene is for styrene production, but it is also used in the manufacture of synthetic rubber, acetophenone, cellulose acetate, diethylbenzene, and many other chemicals.

Ethylbenzene is an important industrial chemical in terms of volume and releases into the environment can occur during its manufacture, storage, transportation and processing. The bulk of releases come from spills of gasoline and other fuels, from the disposal of household products such as paint, cleaning and degreasing products, varnishes and pesticides, as well as from leaking underground storage tanks and from the leaching of landfill sites.


Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR). 2007. Toxicological Profile for Ethylbenzene. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Georgia, USA. (Viewed March 2010)

Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment. 1999. Canadian Water Quality Guidelines for the Protection of Aquatic Life: Ethylbenzene. In: Canadian Environmental Quality Guidelines. Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment, Manitoba, Canada. (Viewed March 2010)

Montgomery, John H. 2007. Groundwater Chemicals, Desk Reference, Fourth Edition, CRC Press, Taylor and Francis Group, Florida, USA.