ToxFAQsTM for Vinyl Acetate
Spanish: Acetato de Vinilo
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This fact sheet answers the most frequently asked health questions (FAQs) about vinyl acetate. For more information, call the ATSDR Information Center at 1-800-232-4636. This fact sheet is one in a series of summaries about hazardous substances and their health effects. It is important you understand this information because this substance may harm you. The effects of exposure to any hazardous substance depend on the dose, the duration, how you are exposed, personal traits and habits, and whether other chemicals are present.
Exposure to vinyl acetate occurs mainly in the workplace. Breathing high levels of it for a short time may irritate your eyes, nose, and throat. This chemical has been found in at least 48 of 1,416 National Priorities List sites identified by the Environmental Protection Agency.
What is vinyl acetate?
Vinyl acetate is an industrial chemical that is produced in large amounts in the United States. It is a clear, colorless liquid with a sweet, fruity smell. It is very flammable and may be ignited by heat, sparks, or flames.
Vinyl acetate is used to make other industrial chemicals. These chemicals are used mainly to make glues for the packaging and building industries. They are also used to make paints, textiles, and paper. Vinyl acetate is also used as a coating in plastic films for food packaging and as a modifier of food starch.
What happens to vinyl acetate when it enters the environment?
- Vinyl acetate enters the environment from industries that
make, use, or process it.
- Vinyl acetate breaks down readily in the environment.
- It takes about 6 hours for one-half of the chemical to
break down in the air.
- It takes about 7 days for one-half of it to break down
- It is not known how long vinyl acetate stays in the soil.
How might I be exposed to vinyl acetate?
- Working in a factory that makes or uses it.
- Breathing air near a factory that makes or uses vinyl
- Breathing air near a hazardous waste site containing vinyl
- Drinking contaminated water.
- Touching products that were made with it, such as glues
How can vinyl acetate affect my health?
The major effects experienced from breathing
high levels of vinyl acetate for a short time are irritated
eyes, nose, and throat.
We don't know what the effects are from
breathing lower levels of vinyl acetate for a long time. We
also don't know what happens if you ingest vinyl acetate.
Long-term animal studies show a reduced
ability of animals to fight infection when rats and mice ingested
high levels of the chemical.
Birth defects were not seen in the offspring
of animals that were exposed to vinyl acetate in drinking
water during their pregnancies.
Vinyl acetate has caused skin irritation
and blisters in workers who accidentally spilled it on their
skin. Eye irritation has also been seen when people were exposed
to vinyl acetate in the air or through accidents when the
chemical went into their eyes.
How likely is vinyl acetate to cause cancer?
The International Agency for Research
on Cancer has determined that vinyl acetate is not classifiable
as to its carcinogenicity to humans.
There are no human studies on the carcinogenicity
of vinyl acetate. Animal studies have shown mixed results;
one study showed an increase in tumors of the noses of rats
who breathed vinyl acetate, while another study did not show
an increase in tumors in rats who drank water containing the
Is there a medical test to show whether I've been exposed to vinyl acetate?
No tests are available to measure vinyl acetate in the blood, urine, or body tissues. Vinyl acetate breaks down very quickly in the body to substances that are normally found in the body; thus, measurement of these break down products is not useful for determining whether you have been exposed to vinyl acetate.
Has the federal government made recommendations to
protect human health?
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requires that discharges or accidental spills into the environment of 5,000 pounds or more of vinyl acetate be reported to the EPA.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has determined that vinyl acetate may be safely used as a coating or a part of a coating that is used in plastic films for food packaging, and as a modifier of food starch.
The American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) has established an exposure limit of 10 parts of vinyl acetate per million parts of workplace air (10 ppm) for an 8-hour workday, 40-hour workweek.
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recommends that exposure to vinyl acetate in the workplace not exceed 4 ppm over a 15-minute
Carcinogenicity: Ability to cause cancer.
Ingesting: Taking food or drink into your body.
Long-term: Lasting one year or longer.
ppm: Parts per million.
Short time: Lasting 14 days or less.
Tumor: An abnormal mass of tissue.
Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease
Registry (ATSDR). 1992. Toxicological Profile for vinyl acetate. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service.
Where can I get more information?
If you have questions or concerns, please contact your community or state health or environmental quality department or:
For more information, contact:
Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry
Office of Innovation and Analytics, Toxicology Section
4770 Buford Highway
Chamblee, GA 30341-3717
Phone: 1-800-CDC-INFO 888-232-6348 (TTY)
Email: Contact CDC-INFO
ATSDR can also tell you the location of occupational and environmental health clinics. These clinics specialize in recognizing, evaluating, and treating illnesses resulting from exposure to hazardous substances.