Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Is xylene harmful?

Are you wondering what is in your whiteboard markers that gives that pungent smell? Are you wondering why you or those in the room with you feel unwell when there has been lots of writing on the whiteboard? Headaches, breathing difficulties, and brain fog are a few of the common symptoms associated with the use of regular whiteboard markers, even the ones labeled 'Conforms to AP Non-Toxic'. A common ingredient in many whiteboard markers is the solvent, xylene. Breathing in the vapors of xylene, even trace amounts, can leave many people feeling unwell.

Here's a look at the properties and health risks associated with the chemical xylene:
What is xylene?
  • Xylene is primarily a synthetic chemical produced from petroleum and coal tar.
  • Xylene is one of the top 30 chemicals produced in the United States in terms of volume.
  • It is used as a solvent in the printing, rubber, and leather industries.
  • You may come in contact with xylene from including cigarette smoke, gasoline, paint, varnish, shellac, rust preventives, and markers. Breathing vapors from these types of products can expose you to xylene.
  • Xylene is rapidly absorbed by your lungs after you breathe air containing it, and then passes into the blood soon after entering the body.
  • Indoor levels of xylene can be higher than outdoor levels, especially in buildings with poor ventilation.
  • Xylene stays in the air for several days until it is broken down by sunlight into other less harmful chemicals.
Exposure to xylene:
  • Short-term exposure of people to high levels of xylene can cause irritation of the skin, eyes, nose, and throat; difficulty in breathing; impaired function of the lungs; delayed response to a visual stimulus; impaired memory; stomach discomfort; and possible changes in the liver and kidneys.
  • Both short- and long-term exposure to high concentrations of xylene can also cause a number of effects on the nervous system, such as headaches, lack of muscle coordination, dizziness, confusion, and changes in one's sense of balance.
  • Long-term exposure of animals to low concentrations of xylene has not been well studied.
  • Both the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) and EPA have found that there is insufficient information to determine whether or not xylene is carcinogenic.
  • Exposure of pregnant women to high levels of xylene may cause harmful effects to the fetus.
  • The higher the exposure and the longer the exposure to xylene, the greater the chance of harmful health effects. Lower concentrations of xylene are not as harmful.

EcoSmart Products is proud to offer a certified non-toxic alternative to regular whiteboard markers. AusPen Eco-Friendly Markers contain no xylene, and have virtually no odor. Made of a de-natured alcohol, AusPen markers are helping whiteboard users finally clear the air.

Information for this article was obtained from this fact sheet from eco-usa.net.


Brad Evans said...

thanks for the information.. some very important (and somewhat worrysome things to think about). Will be discussing them on our website http://www.whiteboardmarker.net

Ross Taylor said...

It's great article, very useful information. The main effect of breathing in xylene smell is depression of the neurological system, with symptoms such as headache, dizziness, nausea and sickness. Volunteers have accepted 100 ppm, but higher levels become undesirable. Irritation of the nose and throat can occur at approximately 200 ppm after 3 to 5 minutes. Exposures estimated at 700 ppm have caused nausea and sickness. Higher than normal levels could cause in-coordination, loss of awareness, respiratory failure and death. Industry Report

alan said...

As a research scientist I accidentally breathed in lots of xylene. I believe it made me very speech deaf.ie affected that part of the brain that understands speech so that I have auditory dyssyncronicity.
DR Alan Lafferty

NoelPCj said...

If any of these versions is damaged sufficiently, the boards will shatter into a million pieces similar to what happens to a side window in an automobile when it breaks. What a mess! This incredibly durable whiteboard paint features comprised of temper-hardened white. These tool are some remedies do a decent job for my business presentation.

vivan edward said...

I admire the valuable information you offer in your articles. I will bookmark your blog and have my children check up here often. I am quite sure they will learn lots of new stuff here than anybody else!
Dry erase board

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Leslie Lim said...

I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often..


sarah lee said...

I really enjoyed reading your article. I found this as an informative and interesting post, so i think it is very useful and knowledgeable. I would like to thank you for the effort you have made in writing this article.


Katy Bernard said...

For 6 years I worked in a classroom with no windows, no sunlight, and daily usage of dry erase markers. I keep getting sick and lab results show I have a toxic level of xylene in my liver. I'm concerned! (I also have a new classroom now, thank goodness).

Unknown said...

Similar to Katy, I have a toxic level of xylene in my body and my liver has ceased functioning properly. However, a strong detox and gut health plan has reversed the effects. Out with xylene-loaded dry-erase markers for this teacher/mom!

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Auflu Benn said...

Denatured alcohol is ethanol that has been rendered undrinkable by adding toxic solvents to it. So you're really just replacing one toxic chemical with another.

Taylor said...

Same as Katy Barnard.