Xylene at room temperature is a clear, volatile liquid having a flammable vapour with an aromatic hydrocarbon odour.
Being chemically similar to benzene and toluene, its toxic effects are also similar. The vapour can be inhaled and the liquid absorbed through the skin causing narcotic effects, irritation of the eyes and respiratory tract, neurological disturbances and blood disturbances (e.g. anaemia).
Xylene is used industrially as a solvent and thinner in resin and rubber-based surface coatings, adhesives and mastics. It is found in petrol and used as a high octane additive in aviation fuels.
Detection methods available
Catalytic bead (0–100% LEL)
Gas detector tube (5–1,000 ppm)
Photoionisation (PID) (0–10,000 ppm)
Suggested alarm levels
Lo: 5% LEL (500 ppm)
Hi: 10% LEL (1,000 ppm)
(1) These values are for o-xylene but are similar for all isomers.