Fact sheet: 2-methylphenol (ortho-cresol)

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

108.1 g/mol


Phenolic compounds

Properties (at room temperature where applicable)

Compound properties list
Melting/boiling point 31 °C / 175 °CSolid
Relative density1.03 g/cm3Floats or sinks in water
Vapour pressure0.3 mm HgLow volatility
Vapour density0N/A
Solubility in water23,000 mg/LVery soluble
Henry's law constant1 x 10-6atm·m3/molSlow volatilization when dissolved
log Koc (Depending on soil or sediment characteristics)1.5Moderate adsorption to organic matter

Environmental behaviour

At 20 0C, 2-methylphenol is a solid with a relative density similar to that of water. It is characterized by low volatility, high solubility, and once dissolved, it volatilizes slowly while adsorbing moderately to organic matter. When present in soil, it dissolves rapidly. In the dissolved phase, 2-methylphenol can reach the water table or migrate into a waterway, where it will be diluted, before slowly volatilizing. Fragments of 2-methylphenol can be carried into a waterway, where they will either disperse on the surface or be deposited at the bottom, and then dissolve. Once the source has been removed, the adsorbed phase will disappear relatively quickly, being released in its gaseous or dissolved (primarily) forms. The resulting dissolved plume will be relatively large while the gaseous plume will be generally small in size.

Health and safety

2-methylphenol should be handled with care, as it is toxic and corrosive.

Principal resources

Most natural sources release only trace amounts of phenolic substances to water.

Mono-phenols have not been produced in Canada since 1992. Phenolic compounds are a major by-product of the pulp and paper, mineral (nonmetallic), chemical, steel and metal, and petroleum industries.

Phenols are used as disinfectants, phenolic resins, tricresyl phosphate, ore flotation, textile scouring agent, preservatives, dyes, pesticides, and in medical and industrial organic chemicals. In Canada, large amount of phenols are used in the production of phenolic resins, which are used as binding materials in insulation materials, chipboard, paints, and casting sand foundries. Phenolic compounds are also released through automobile exhaust, fireplaces, cigarette smoke, and gases from incinerators.


Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment. 1999. Canadian water quality guidelines for the protection of aquatic life: Phenols – Mono- and dihydric phenols. In: Canadian environmental quality guidelines, 1999, Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment, Winnipeg. (Viewed December 2013)

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