The following information has been extracted from our CHEMINFO database, which also contains hazard control and regulatory information. [More about...] [Sample Record]

Access the complete CHEMINFO database by contacting CCOHS Client Services.


CHEMINFO Record Number: 439
CCOHS Chemical Name: n-Butyl acetate

Acetic acid, n-butyl ester
1-Butyl acetate
Butyl acetate (non-specific name)
Butyl ethanoate
Acetate de butyle

Chemical Name French: Acétate de butyle normal
Chemical Name Spanish: Acetato de n-butilo
CAS Registry Number: 123-86-4
UN/NA Number(s): 1123
RTECS Number(s): AF7350000
EU EINECS/ELINCS Number: 204-658-1
Chemical Family: Aliphatic carboxylic acid ester / saturated aliphatic carboxylic acid ester / saturated aliphatic monocarboxylic acid ester / alkyl alkanoate / acetic acid ester / acetate / butyl ester
Molecular Formula: C6-H12-O2
Structural Formula: CH3-CH2-CH2-CH2-O-C(=O)-CH3


Appearance and Odour:
Colourless liquid with a fruity, banana-like odour; agreeable in low concentrations, but not very pleasant at higher levels.(17)

Odour Threshold:
Reported values vary widely; 0.063-7.4 ppm (geometric mean: 0.31 ppm) (detection); 0.038-12 ppm (geometric mean: 0.68 ppm) (recognition) (21)

Warning Properties:
GOOD - TLV is greater than 20 times the mean odour threshold.

May contain small amounts of butanol.

Uses and Occurrences:
Solvent for nitrocellulose-based lacquers for furniture and automotive coatings, inks, paints, thinners, adhesives, airplane dopes, paper and leather coatings, oils and rubber; for extraction of pharmaceuticals; perfume ingredient; used in making safety glasses, artificial leathers, photographic films, plastics, shoe polishes and stain removers; synthetic flavouring ingredient.(6,17,18) Occurs naturally in many fruits, e.g. apples and bananas, and also in vinegar, cheese, beer, coffee and honey.(3)


Colourless liquid with a fruity, banana-like odour; agreeable in low concentrations, but unpleasant at higher levels. FLAMMABLE LIQUID AND VAPOUR. Vapour is heavier than air and may spread long distances. Distant ignition and flashback are possible. Liquid may float on water and travel to distant locations and/or spread fire. Irritating to respiratory tract. Mild central nervous system depressant. High vapour concentrations may cause headache, nausea, dizziness, incoordination, confusion and unconsciousness. EYE IRRITANT. Causes severe eye irritation.


Effects of Short-Term (Acute) Exposure

n-Butyl acetate very readily forms high vapour concentrations. In humans, a 3-5 minute exposure to 200-300 ppm was irritating to the nose and throat.(1) In another study, 20 minute to 4 hour exposures to 15-295 ppm were only slightly irritating to the nose, throat and respiratory system.(2) Concentrations over 3300 ppm were extremely irritating and not easily tolerated.(3,4) Exposure to higher concentrations can cause signs of central nervous system (CNS) depression, including headaches, dizziness, nausea and unconsciousness, based on animal evidence. However, exposure to concentrations which would cause CNS depression would not be easily tolerated by humans due to irritation.
Animal studies indicate that the n-butyl acetate aerosols may be toxic by inhalation. However, occupational exposure is typically to n-butyl acetate vapours.(27)

Skin Contact:
n-Butyl acetate is not expected to be a skin irritant, based on animal and limited human information. In humans, a 4% solution did not produce irritation in a 48-hour patch test.(3)

Eye Contact:
The liquid can cause moderate to severe eye irritation based on human and animal information. Eye irritation caused by a splash of n-butyl acetate healed within 48 hours.(5) The vapour can cause mild to severe eye irritation, depending on the concentration. The vapour has produced mild eye irritation at concentrations up to 300 ppm for up to 4 hours.(1,2,3,5) Marked irritation was produced at concentrations above 3300 ppm.(3,4)

Animal toxicity values indicate very low toxicity by ingestion. There is no human information available. n-Butyl acetate may be irritating to the mouth and throat and extremely large amounts may cause signs of CNS depression, as described for "Inhalation" above. Ingestion is not a typical route of occupational exposure.

Effects of Long-Term (Chronic) Exposure

Repeated or prolonged skin contact may cause irritation and drying. One case of dermatitis has been reported. This was thought to be caused by the attack of n-butyl acetate on PVC gloves.(6)

No other effects from long-term occupational exposure have been reported.


There is no human or animal information available. n-Butyl acetate is probably not carcinogenic.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has not evaluated the carcinogenicity of this chemical.

The American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) has not assigned a carcinogenicity designation to this chemical.

The US National Toxicology Program (NTP) has not listed this chemical in its report on carcinogens.

Teratogenicity and Embryotoxicity:
There is no human information available. One limited animal study showed minor abnormalities in the absence of maternal toxicity. No conclusions can be drawn based on this study.

Reproductive Toxicity:
There is no human or animal information available.

There is no human or animal information available. Negative results were obtained in bacteria.

Toxicologically Synergistic Materials:
In one study, the combination of n-butyl acetate and n-butyl alcohol produced an additive acute neurotoxic effect in animals.(7)

Potential for Accumulation:
Probably does not accumulate. Animal studies suggest that n-butyl acetate is rapidly broken down in the body to acetic acid and n-butanol and eliminated in the urine as 4-hydroxy-3-methoxy- or vanilemandelic acid.(3,8)


This chemical is flammable. Take proper precautions (e.g. remove any sources of ignition). If symptoms develop, remove source of contamination or move victim to fresh air. Obtain medical advice.

Skin Contact:
Remove contaminated clothing, shoes and leather goods (e.g. watchbands, belts). Quickly and gently blot or brush away excess chemical. Wash gently and thoroughly with lukewarm, gently flowing water and non-abrasive soap for 5 minutes. If irritation persists, obtain medical advice. Completely decontaminate clothing, shoes and leather goods before re-use or discard.

Eye Contact:
Quickly and gently blot or brush chemical off the face. Immediately flush the contaminated eye(s) with lukewarm, gently flowing water for 15-20 minutes, while holding the eyelid(s) open. If a contact lens is present, DO NOT delay irrigation or attempt to remove the lens. Take care not to rinse contaminated water into the unaffected eye or onto the face. Immediately obtain medical attention.

NEVER give anything by mouth if victim is rapidly losing consciousness, is unconscious or convulsing. Have victim rinse mouth thoroughly with water. DO NOT INDUCE VOMITING. If vomiting occurs naturally, have victim rinse mouth with water again. Obtain medical advice.

First Aid Comments:
Provide general supportive measures (comfort, warmth, rest).
Consult a doctor and/or the nearest Poison Control Centre for all exposures except minor instances of inhalation or skin contact.
All first aid procedures should be periodically reviewed by a doctor familiar with the material and its conditions of use in the workplace.


Flash Point:
22 deg C (72 deg F) (closed cup) (19)

Lower Flammable (Explosive) Limit (LFL/LEL):
1.3% (19)

Upper Flammable (Explosive) Limit (UFL/UEL):
7.6% (19)

Autoignition (Ignition) Temperature:
425 deg C (797 deg F) (19)

Sensitivity to Mechanical Impact:
Not sensitive. Stable material.

Sensitivity to Static Charge:
Probably will not accumulate static charge, since acetates have high electrical conductivities. Vapours in the flammable range may be ignited by a static discharge of sufficient energy.

Fire Hazard Summary:
Flammable liquid. Can form vapours that form explosive mixtures with air at, or above, 22 deg C. Vapour is heavier than air and may travel a considerable distance to a source of ignition and flash back to a leak or open container. Liquid may float on water and travel to distant locations and/or spread fire. Can accumulate in confined spaces, resulting in a toxicity and flammability hazard. Closed containers may rupture violently when heated.

Extinguishing Media:
Carbon dioxide, dry chemical powder, "alcohol" foam or polymer foam. Water may be ineffective because it will not cool n-butyl acetate below its flash point. Fire fighting foams are the extinguishing agent of choice for most flammable liquid fires.(20)

Fire Fighting Instructions:
Evacuate area and fight fire from a safe distance or protected location. Approach fire from upwind to avoid hazardous vapours and toxic decomposition products.
Stop leak before attempting to stop the fire. If the leak cannot be stopped, and if there is no risk to the surrounding area, let the fire burn itself out. If the flames are extinguished without stopping the leak, vapours could form explosive mixtures with air and reignite.
Water can extinguish the fire if used under favourable conditions and when hose streams are applied by experienced firefighters trained in fighting all types of flammable liquid fires. Isolate materials not yet involved in the fire and protect personnel. Move containers from fire area if this can be done without risk. Otherwise, fire-exposed containers or tanks should be cooled by application of hose streams and this should begin as soon as possible (within the first several minutes) and should concentrate on any unwetted portions of the container. If this is not possible, use unmanned monitor nozzles and immediately evacuate the area.
If a leak or spill has not ignited, use water spray in large quantities to disperse the vapours, to protect personnel attempting to stop a leak and to flush spills away from ignition sources. Solid streams of water may be ineffective and spread material. For a massive fire in a large area, use unmanned hose holder or monitor nozzles; if this is not possible withdraw from fire area and allow fire to burn. Stay away from ends of tanks. Withdraw immediately in case of rising sound from venting safety device or any discolouration of tank due to fire.
Firefighters may enter the area if positive pressure self-contained breathing apparatus (MSHA/NIOSH approved or equivalent) and full Bunker Gear is worn.


NFPA - Health: 2 - Intense or continued (but not chronic) exposure could cause temporary incapacitation or possible residual injury.
NFPA - Flammability: 3 - Liquids and solids that can be ignited under almost all ambient temperature conditions.
NFPA - Instability: 0 - Normally stable, even under fire conditions, and not reactive with water.


Molecular Weight: 116.16

Conversion Factor:
1 ppm = 4.74 mg/m3; 1 mg/m3 = 0.211 ppm at 25 deg C (calculated)

Physical State: Liquid
Melting Point: -77.9 deg C (-108.2 deg F) (8,20); FREEZING POINT: -73.5 deg C (-100.3 deg F) (17,18)
Boiling Point: 126 deg C (259 deg F) (17,18,20)
Relative Density (Specific Gravity): 0.882 at 20 deg C (water = 1) (18,20,22)
Solubility in Water: Slightly soluble (0.7 g/100 mL at 20 deg C) (11,22)
Solubility in Other Liquids: Soluble in all proportions in ethanol, diethyl ether, ketones, other esters (4,11,20); soluble in benzene and most hydrocarbons (6)
Coefficient of Oil/Water Distribution (Partition Coefficient): Log P(oct) = 1.82 (6)
pH Value: Not available. Probably neutral.
Viscosity-Dynamic: 0.732 mPa.s (0.732 centipoises) at 20 deg C (6)
Surface Tension: 14.5 mN/m (14.5 dynes/cm) at 25 deg C (6)
Vapour Density: 4.0 (air = 1) (8,11,20)
Vapour Pressure: 1.33 kPa (10 mm Hg) at 20 deg C (11,17,20); 2 kPa (15 mm Hg) at 25 deg C (6,8)
Saturation Vapour Concentration: 13160 ppm (1.32%) at 20 deg C; 19740 ppm (approx. 2%) at 25 deg C (calculated)
Evaporation Rate: 12 (ether = 1) (5)
Critical Temperature: 305.9 deg C (582.6 deg F) (6)
Critical Pressure: 3141 kPa (31 atm) (6)


Stable in the anhydrous state. May slowly hydrolyze to acetic acid and butanol in the presence of water.(18)

Hazardous Polymerization:
Does not occur

Incompatibility - Materials to Avoid:

NOTE: Chemical reactions that could result in a hazardous situation (e.g. generation of flammable or toxic chemicals, fire or detonation) are listed here. Many of these reactions can be done safely if specific control measures (e.g. cooling of the reaction) are in place. Although not intended to be complete, an overview of important reactions involving common chemicals is provided to assist in the development of safe work practices.

OXIDIZING AGENTS (e.g. nitrates, perchlorates, peroxides) - reaction can be violent. Increased risk of fire and explosion.(17,20,23)
STRONG ACIDS (e.g. sulfuric acid, oleum, and chlorosulfonic acid) or STRONG BASES (e.g. potassium hydroxide) - decomposition (hydrolysis) can occur, releasing heat. The reaction may be vigorous and there is a risk of fire and explosions.(17,20,23)
POTASSIUM TERT-BUTOXIDE - contact with n-butyl acetate vapour may cause ignition.(19,20)

Hazardous Decomposition Products:
Acetic acid, n-butanol

Conditions to Avoid:
Open flames, sparks, electrostatic discharge, heat and other ignition sources, moisture.

Corrosivity to Metals:
Not corrosive to iron, steel, stainless steel, aluminum, copper and nickel and their alloys.(24)

Stability and Reactivity Comments:
Can attack many plastics and resins.(17,18)


LC50 (rat): 1802 mg/m3; 4-hour exposure (aerosol) (9)
Note: A lower LC50 (aerosol) value of 760 mg/m3 (160 ppm); 4-hour exposure has been reported.(11,27) Extensive research has failed to confirm this value. The sample of n-butyl acetate tested was slightly less pure than other samples tested (98.2%) compared to 99.3% and above). In addition, the relative humidity in the exposure chamber was very low, possibly suggesting equipment malfunctioning. Experimental aerosol LC50 values are highly variable and the reasons for this variability are unknown.(27)
LC50 (rat): 2000 ppm; 4-hour exposure (vapour) (10,27)
Note: The concentration of n-butyl acetate was not verified analytically and the purity of the test material was not specified. Other experiments designed to replicate the vapour LC50 did not result in any mortality, even at concentrations of 6867 ppm.(27)

LD50 (oral, rat): 10770 mg/kg (12, unconfirmed)
LD50 (oral, mouse): 7100 mg/kg (5, unconfirmed)
LD50 (oral, rabbit): 7400 mg/kg (cited as 64 millimols/kg) (13)

LD50 (dermal, rabbit): Greater than 5000 mg/kg (3, unconfirmed)

Eye Irritation:

n-Butyl acetate is a severe eye irritant.

Application of 0.2 mL of undiluted n-butyl acetate cause severe injury in rabbits (scored over 5, were 5 is severe injury; graded 5/10).(14) In another study, application of 100 mg produced moderate irritation in rabbits in a standard Draize test.(12, unconfirmed)

Skin Irritation:

n-Butyl acetate is not irritating to the skin.

Application of 0.5 mL of undiluted n-butyl acetate for 4 hours, under cover, produced no irritation in rabbits (scored 0/8).(29) Application of 0.01 mL of undiluted n-butyl acetate produced no irritation in rabbits (graded 1/10).(14) Application of undiluted n-butyl acetate to intact or abraded skin for 24 hours, under cover, produced moderate irritation in rabbits.(3,unconfirmed) Scoring information was not provided.

Effects of Short-Term (Acute) Exposure:

Signs of toxicity observed in rats during exposure to 6867 ppm vapour included respiratory irritation, breathing abnormalities, muscle incoordination and unconsciousness. Similar effects were observed following inhalation of 2489 mg/m3 aerosolized n-butyl acetate. Lung damage (congestion, bleeding and fluid accumulation) was observed in animals that died.(9) Other acute lethality studies using aerosol and vapour exposures have produced signs of irritation and central nervous system (CNS) effects such as decreased motor activity, lethargy, tremors, muscle incoordination and unconsciousness.(28) At high concentrations (greater than 6000 ppm for 30 minutes to 4 hours), n-butyl acetate produced unconsciousness in mice, cats and guinea pigs.(4,8) Cats exposed to 4200 ppm for 6 days experienced weakness, weight loss and some minor blood changes.(8) The respiratory rate in mice decreased by 50% (RD50) upon exposure to 1755 ppm n-butyl acetate for 6 minutes. The RD50 value indicates acute respiratory irritation.(7)

Effects of Long-Term (Chronic) Exposure:

Guinea pigs exposed to 900 ppm for 11 weeks experienced no adverse effects.(15)

Teratogenicity, Embryotoxicity and/or Fetotoxicity:
Minor abnormalities have been observed in rabbits exposed to one concentration, in the absence of maternal toxicity.(16) It is not possible to draw any conclusions due to limitations in the study design.
Rabbits exposed by inhalation to 1500 ppm on days 1-19 of pregnancy did not show signs of maternal toxicity. A significant increase in the incidence of minor abnormalities (misaligned sternums and retinal folds) was observed.(16) Rats exposed by inhalation to 1500 ppm on days 1-16 of pregnancy showed signs of maternal toxicity. Fetal toxicity (retarded growth) and a significant increase in the incidence of abnormalities (rib abnormalities, reduced bone formation and dilated ureters) were observed.(16)


Selected Bibliography:
(1) Nelson, K.W., et al. Sensory response to certain industrial solvent vapours. Journal of Industrial Hygiene and Toxicology. Vol. 25, no. 7 (Sept. 1943). p. 282-285
(2) Iregren, A., et al. Irritation effects from experimental exposure to n-butyl acetate. American Journal of Industrial Medicine. Vol. 24, no. 6 (Dec. 1993). p. 727-742
(3) Opdyke, D.L. Monographs on fragrance raw materials: butyl acetate. Food and Cosmetics Toxicology. Vol 17 (suppl.) (Dec. 1979). p. 515-519
(4) von Oettingen, W.F. The aliphatic acids and their esters: toxicity and potential dangers. A.M.A. Archives of Industrial Health. Vol. 21 (Jan. 1960). p. 40-77
(5) Browning, E. Toxicity and metabolism of industrial solvents. Elsevier Publishing, 1965. p. 529-532
(6) HSDB record for n-butyl acetate. Last revision date: 95/01/18
(7) Korsak, Z., et al. Effects of acute combined inhalation exposure to n-butyl alcohol and n-butyl acetate in experimental animals. International Journal of Occupational Medicine and Environmental Health. Vol. 7, no. 3 (1994). p. 273-280
(8) Bisesi, M.S. Esters. In: Patty's industrial hygiene and toxicology. Edited by G.D. Clayton et al. 4th ed. Vol. II. Toxicology. Part D. John Wiley and Sons, 1994. p. 2967-2971, 2978-2985
(9) Bushy Run Research Center. n-Butyl acetate: acute vapor inhalation toxicity test in rats. Project Report no. 50-135. EPA-OTS 000510362H. Union Carbide Corporation, Nov. 17, 1987
(10) National Printing Ink Research Institute. Butyl acetate. In: NPIRI raw materials data handbook: physical and chemical properties, fire hazard and health hazard data. Vol. 1. Organic solvents. LeHigh University, 1974. p. I-7.
(11) n-Butyl acetate. In: Documentation of the threshold limit values and biological exposure indices. 6th ed. American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists, 1991. p. 164-165
(12) RTECS record for acetic acid, butyl ester. Date of last update: 9601
(13) Munch, J.C. Aliphatic alcohols and alkyl esters: narcotic and lethal potencies to tadpoles and rabbits. Industrial Medicine. Vol. 41, no. 4 (Apr. 1972). p. 31-33
(14) Smyth, Jr., H.F., et al. Range-finding toxicity data: list V. .A.M.A. Archives of Industrial Hygiene and Occupational Medicine. Vol. 10 (1954). p. 61-68
(15) Smyth, H.F., et al. Inhalation experiments with certain lacquer solvents. Journal of Industrial Hygiene. Vol 10, no. 8 (Oct. 1928). p. 261-271
(16) Hackett, P.L., et al. Teratogenic study of ethylene and propylene oxide and n-butyl acetate. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, May, 1982. p. ii-x, 1-30, 79-105, A8-A9, B1-B3
(17) Emergency action guide for butyl acetate. Association of American Railroads, Jan. 1988
(18) Tau, K.D., et al. Esters, organic. In: Kirk-Othmer encyclopedia of chemical technology. 4th ed. Vol. 9. John Wiley and Sons, 1994. p. 781-812
(19) Fire protection guide to hazardous materials. 13th ed. Edited by A.B. Spencer, et al. National Fire Protection Association, 2002. NFPA 325; NFPA 491
(20) Occupational safety and health guideline for n-butyl acetate. National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, 1992
(21) Odor thresholds for chemicals with established occupational health standards. American Industrial Hygiene Association, 1989. p. 14, 47-48
(22) Riemenschneider, W. Esters, organic. In: Ullmann's encyclopedia of industrial chemistry. 5th completely revised ed. Vol. A 9. VCH Verlagsgesellschaft, 1987. p. 565-585
(23) NIOSH pocket guide to chemical hazards. National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, June 1994. p. 36-37
(24) Corrosion data survey: metals section. 6th ed. National Association of Corrosion Engineers, 1985. p. 24-25
(25) European Communities. Commission Directive 98/98/EC. Dec. 15, 1998
(26) Forsberg, K., et al. Quick selection guide to chemical protective clothing. 4th ed. Van Nostrand Reinhold, 2002
(27) Norris, J.C., et al. Acute inhalation toxicity studies of n-butyl acetate. Inhalation Toxicology. Vol. 9 (1997). p. 623-646
(28) National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). Esters I. In: NIOSH Manual of Analytical Methods (NMAM(R)). 4th ed. Edited by M.E. Cassinelli, et al. DHHS (NIOSH) Publication 94-113. Aug. 1994. Available at: <>
(29) Bushy Run Research Center. Acute toxicity and primary irritancy studies on n-butyl acetate with cover letter dated 100887. Date produced: Sept. 15, 1987. Union Carbide Corp. EPA/OTS 89-880000006. NTIS/OTS0513465.

Information on chemicals reviewed in the CHEMINFO database is drawn from a number of publicly available sources. A list of general references used to compile CHEMINFO records is available in the database Help.

Review/Preparation Date: 1996-07-24

Revision Indicators:
TLV-STEL 1996-09-01
TLV-TWA 1998-08-01
TLV comments 1998-08-01
EU Class 2000-04-01
EU Risk 2000-04-01
EU Safety 2000-04-01
EU Comments 2000-04-01
ERPG-1 2002-05-23
ERPG-2 2002-05-23
ERPG-3 2002-05-23
TDG 2002-05-29
Short-term inhalation 2002-12-04
Carcinogenicity 2002-12-04
WHMIS proposed classification 2002-12-04
Handling 2002-12-06
Storage 2002-12-06
US transport 2002-12-10
NFPA (health) 2003-04-16
PEL-TWA final 2003-12-04
PEL-STEL final 2003-12-04
PEL transitional comments 2003-12-04
Resistance of materials for PPE 2004-04-04
Passive Sampling Devices 2005-03-07
Sampling/analysis 2005-03-07
Toxicological info 2005-06-08
Short-term skin contact 2005-06-08
WHMIS health effects 2005-06-08
Emergency overview 2005-06-08
First aid skin 2005-06-08
Bibliography 2005-06-08
Handling 2005-07-01
WHMIS detailed classification 2006-03-16

©2007 Canadian  Centre  for  Occupational  Health  &  Safety  E-mail:  Fax: (905) 572-2206  Phone: (905) 572-2981  
Mail:  250  Main  Street  East,  Hamilton  Ontario  L8N  1H6