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Nitrobenzene Structure
Nitrobenzene Structure1906
CAS Number: 98-95-3
Synonyms: Mirbane oil, Oil of mirbane
Contaminant Type: Chemical

Nitrobenzene is a yellow liquid with an almond-like odor.  Most of (97%) nitrobenzene is produced is retained in closed systems for use in synthesizing  aniline and aniline derivaties, such as methyl diphenyl diisocyanate (MDI).  Nitrobenzene is also used as solvent in manufacturing of paints, shoe polishes, floor polishes, metal polishes, explosives, rubber chemicals, pesticides, dyes, and pharmaceuticals (such as acetaminophen). [1905, 1906]   

In 1992, releases of nitrobenzene to environment was reported to the Toxic Chemical Release Inventory by certain types of U.S.industries, totaled about 917,000 lbs.  Of this amount, 52,000 (5.6%) was released to the atmosphere, 442 lbs (0.05%) released to surface water, and 865,000 lbs (94.32%) were released in underground injection sites.  Nitrobenzene in air can photochemically degrade within few hours, and easily biodegradable in soil and water.  [1905] 

Occurane of nitrobenzene in water is most likely due to effluent discharge during the manufacturing process.  Nitrobenzene rarely is carried through finsihed water; it is lkely to be lost to air or degrade by sewage organisms.  The survey of 4,000 publicly owned treatment works and industrial sites showed highest nitrobenzne concentration in effluent associated with wastewater from the organic and plastic industries.  [1908]

Nitrobenzene is reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen based on sufficinet evidence of carcinogenicity in experiemntal animal. [1907]  The general public is potentially exposed to nitrobenzene in the environment through inhalation of ambient air, ingestion of water, or dermal contact with products or water containing nitrobenzene. [1907]  The primary toxic effects resulting from acute exposure to nitrobenzene by inhalation, oral or dermal routes is methemoglobinemia and accompanying anoxia and erythrocyte damage.  Nervous system effects may also be experienced, but may be partially due to the anoxia from the methemoglobinemia. [1905, 1906]  Limited evidence suggests that the liver may be a target organ in humans following extended inhalation exposure to nitrobenzene. [1906]

The US EPA regulates nitrobenzene under the Clean Air Act (CAA) and Clean Water Act (CWA).  Nitrobenzene is also regulated under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) and Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA).  Nitrobenzene is not regulated in drinking water however it is included in US EPA's Contaminant Candidate List 3 (CCL3).  The CCL3 is a list of contaminants that are currently not subjected to any proposed or promulgated national primary drinking water regulations, that are known or anticipated to occur in public water system, and which may get regulated under the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA).

Date of Literature Search: October 2010


1905 United State Environmental Protection Agency; 1995; Nitrobenzene fact sheet: support document; OPPT Chemical Fact Sheets; EPA 749-F-95-015a
1906 U.S. Public Health Service; 1990; Toxicological profile for nitrobenzene; Agency for Toxic Substance and Disease Registry ;
1907 USEPA; 2010; Report on Carcinogenes: Nitrobenzene; Substance Profile; 11th Edition
1908 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and Technology Planning and Management Corporation; 2002; Report on carcinogens background document for nitrobenzene; Report;