Propylene (chemical formula: C2H4), also known as propene, is a liquefied compressed gas with a mild odour. It forms a dense vapour cloud in normal atmospheric conditions, and is soluble in alcohol and ether, but only slightly soluble in water. It floats and boils on water.
Propylene is used as a raw material in the manufacture of acetone, phenol, isopropanol, isopropyl halides, propylene oxide and isopropyl benzene, but most propylene is used to make polypropylene plastic, a polymerised form of propylene.
Polypropylene can be used to make clothing, sunglasses, food containers, plastic straws and outdoor furniture to name a few.
The routes of exposure for propylene include inhalation, ingestion and skin and eye contact.
Inhalation of propylene can lead to symptoms including drowsiness, dizziness, reduced alertness, loss of reflexes, lack of coordination and vertigo. Inhalation of high concentrations of the gas can cause lung irritation, coughing, nausea, central nervous depression, headache, dizziness, slowing of reflexes, fatigue, lack of coordination and even death. Propylene is highly volatile and in a confined area, the vapour can replace breathing air and act as an asphyxiant.
Ingestion isn’t considered likely due to its gaseous state and overexposure is unlikely.
Repeated skin exposure to propylene may cause the skin to crack, flake and dry. Entry into the bloodstream through open cuts and wounds may lead to other systemic damage.
Eye exposure can cause irritation characterised by tearing and redness, however it is generally not considered a risk due its gaseous state.
If inhaled, remove the patient from the contaminated area to the nearest fresh air source. Keep the patient warm and rested, continuously monitoring their pulse. If the patient is not breathing and you are qualified to do so, perform CPR—a bag-valve mask device is preferable to ensure the safety of the rescuer. Seek medical attention without delay.
If ingested, the patient should avoid consuming any milk, oils or alcohols, however Ingestion isn’t considered likely due to its gaseous state and overexposure is unlikely.
If skin exposure occurs, flush the affected skin and hair with running water and soap. Seek medical attention in the event of irritation.
If the chemical is exposed to the eyes, the patient should open their eyelids wide to allow the chemical to evaporate. Then they should flush their eyes out immediately with fresh running water for at least 15 minutes, ensuring they move their eyeballs in every direction to better reach every part of the eye. Seek medical attention without delay.
Emergency eyewash fountains should be accessible in the immediate area of the potential exposure to the chemical and ensure adequate ventilation is available to remove or dilute any air contaminants (install local exhaust if necessary).
The PPE recommended when handling propylene includes safety glasses with side shields, chemical goggles, full face respirators with supplied air, protective overalls, non-sparking safety boots and non-static gloves.
Without the proper know-how, mishandling propylene can lead to severe injuries and even death. Always ensure you familiarise yourself with the product SDS to keep yourself, and others, out of harm’s way. Click here for a trial of our SDS Management Software or contact us at email@example.com for more information about our chemicals management solutions.