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CHEMINFO Record Number: 728
CCOHS Chemical Name: Turpentine

Wood turpentine
Spirit of turpentine
Turpentine oil

Chemical Name French: Térébenthine
Chemical Name Spanish: Aguarrás
CAS Registry Number: 8006-64-2
UN/NA Number(s): 1299
RTECS Number(s): YO8400000
EU EINECS/ELINCS Number: 232-350-7
Chemical Family: Unsaturated alicyclic hydrocarbon / cycloalkene / terpene
Molecular Formula: Approximately C10-H16


Appearance and Odour:
Colourless liquid with a characteristic aromatic or pine odour.

Odour Threshold:
Low 560 mg/m3 (100 ppm); high 1120 mg/m3 (200 ppm) (24)

Warning Properties:
NOT RELIABLE - odour threshold about the same as the TLV; IRRITATION - exposure to 75 ppm for 3-5 minutes caused nose and throat irritation in several people; 125 ppm caused objectionable throat irritation in a majority of persons exposed for 3-5 minutes.(8)

Turpentine is an essential oil obtained from the wood of living or dead coniferous trees. It is a complex mixture. The main components are terpenes such as alpha- and beta-pinene, camphene and dipentene. The percentage of the various components can change depending on the source of the oil and the method of production.

Uses and Occurrences:
Most turpentine is separated into its components to make other products such as alpha- and beta-pinene, pine oil, etc. Turpentine is also used to produce the pesticide toxaphene. As a solvent, turpentine is used in shoe polishes, printing inks, cleaning compounds, natural and synthetic waxes and polishes, and paper products. Previously, turpentine was widely used by paint manufacturers as a solvent for paints. There is still a large demand for turpentine in "over the counter sales" for use by individuals as a solvent thinner and cleaner for paints, varnishes and equipment.


Colourless liquid with a characteristic pine odour. FLAMMABLE LIQUID. May accumulate static charge by flow or agitation. Vapour is heavier than air and may spread long distances. Liquid can float on water and may spread long distances and/or spread fire. TOXIC. Harmful if inhaled, absorbed through the skin or swallowed. Central nervous system depressant. High vapour concentrations may cause headache, nausea, dizziness, drowsiness, unconsciousness and death. Causes eye irritation. SKIN SENSITIZER. May cause allergic skin reaction. Aspiration hazard. Swallowing or vomiting of the liquid may result in aspiration into the lungs.


Effects of Short-Term (Acute) Exposure

Turpentine can cause irritation and central nervous system (CNS) depression. Vapour concentrations of 75 ppm caused nose and throat irritation in several people exposed for 3-5 minutes. A concentration of 175 ppm was intolerable for the majority of the exposed group.(8)

Headache, dizziness, nausea and accelerated pulse rate were seen following exposure for several hours to 750-1000 ppm. A woman developed severe swelling of the throat after inhaling a large amount of turpentine. Other symptoms such as coughing, nausea and vomiting have also been reported.(23) Signs of kidney injury (albuminuria, hematuria) were seen in one person exposed to an unknown concentration of turpentine in a closed room for 2 days for 12 hours at a time. The person completely recovered 2 weeks after the exposure.(9)

Skin Contact:
The liquid is probably a mild irritant. There is no specific animal or human data available. It may also be absorbed through the skin, although there are no reports of toxicity from this route of exposure.(9) Sensitized individuals may develop an allergic skin reaction following contact with liquid turpentine or even vapours.(20,29) Symptoms may include inflammation, rash and itching.

Eye Contact:
Turpentine is a moderate to severe irritant. A vapour concentration of 175 ppm was irritating to the majority of people in an exposed test group.(8) The liquid is reported to cause reddening of the eyes (conjunctivitis), transient injury but no damage.(16)

Turpentine is moderately toxic if ingested. Amounts of about 8 ounces (240 mL) can be toxic or even fatal. Exposure can cause irritation, nausea, vomiting and CNS depression. Signs of CNS depression include dizziness, headache and incoordination. More severe CNS depression can cause unconsciousness, coma and death. Kidney injury (albuminuria, hematuria) and kidney failure have been reported following ingestion.(9,11)

Turpentine poses a serious aspiration risk, especially during vomiting. Aspiration is the "breathing" of a material into the lungs. Aspiration of even small amounts of turpentine can cause life-threatening damage to the lungs (pulmonary edema).(10)

Effects of Long-Term (Chronic) Exposure

SKIN: Prolonged or repeated contact can remove fat from the skin resulting in dried and cracked skin. Also, upon prolonged or repeated contact, some people may develop a sensitivity to turpentine which results in an allergic skin reaction.(15,17,18,29) Symptoms may include inflammation, rash and itching.

KIDNEY: There are historical reports describing kidney injury in painters who worked with paint containing, among other things, both turpentine and lead. Evaluation of the available animal data and human case reports indicate that turpentine is probably not responsible for any long term kidney effects.(9)


No human information available. The limited amount of animal information available is inconclusive.

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 designated this chemical as not classifiable as a human carcinogen (A4).

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

Teratogenicity and Embryotoxicity:
No human information available. In the one animal study available, signs of fetotoxicity but not teratogenicity were seen when pregnant rats were exposed to vapour concentrations high enough to produce maternal toxicity.

Reproductive Toxicity:
No information available

No information available

Toxicologically Synergistic Materials:
No human information available. In a rat study, the oral toxicity of parathion was decreased (as indicated by an increased oral LD50 value) when the rats were pretreated with oral doses of turpentine. The oral toxicity of heptachlor was increased in rats pretreated with oral doses of turpentine. Similarly, the toxicity of heptachlor by inhalation, was increased in rats previously exposed to turpentine vapours. Turpentine vapours had no effect on the acute inhalation toxicity of parathion. Neither oral doses or vapours of turpentine affected the acute toxicity of parathion.(12)

Potential for Accumulation:
A small amount (2-5%) of the dose absorbed following inhalation is exhaled unchanged. The half-life of the absorbed dose is 32-42 hours. Turpenes may accumulate in fat tissue.(30) In an animal study it was observed that turpentine accumulated in the fat surrounding the brain and the kidneys.(6)


This chemical is flammable. Take proper precautions (e.g., remove any sources of ignition.) Also, take proper precautions to ensure your own safety before attempting rescue (e.g. wear appropriate protective equipment, use the buddy system). If breathing has stopped, trained personnel should begin artificial respiration or, if the heart has stopped, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) immediately. Immediately transport victim to an emergency care facility.

Skin Contact:
Avoid direct contact with this chemical. Wear chemical protective gloves, if necessary. Quickly and gently blot or brush away chemical. Wash gently and thoroughly with water and non-abrasive soap for 5 minutes or until the chemical is removed. Under running water, remove contaminated clothing, shoes, and leather goods (e.g., watchbands, belts). If breathing has stopped, trained personnel should begin artificial respiration (AR) or, if the heart has stopped, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) immediately. Obtain medical attention immediately. Completely decontaminate clothing before reuse or discard.

Eye Contact:
Avoid contact with this material. Wear chemical resistant protective gloves if necessary. Quickly and gently blot or brush away chemical. Immediately flush the contaminated eye(s) with lukewarm, gently flowing water for 20 minutes, or until the chemical is removed, while holding the eyelid(s) open. Take care not to rinse contaminated water into the non-affected eye. Obtain medical attention immediately.

Never give anything by mouth if victim is rapidly losing consciousness, or is unconscious or convulsing. Have victim rinse mouth thoroughly with water. DO NOT INDUCE VOMITING. Have victim drink 240 to 300 mL (8 to 10 oz.) of water. If vomiting occurs naturally, have victim lean forward to reduce risk of aspiration. Repeat administration of water. If breathing has stopped, trained personnel should begin artificial respiration (AR) or, if the heart has stopped, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) immediately. Avoid mouth-to-mouth contact by using mouth guards or shields. Quickly transport victim to an emergency care facility.

First Aid Comments:
Provide general supportive measures (comfort, warmth, rest). Consult a physician 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 physician familiar with the material and its conditions of use in the workplace.


Flash Point:
35 deg C (95 deg F) (closed cup) (13)

Lower Flammable (Explosive) Limit (LFL/LEL):
0.8 percent (13)

Upper Flammable (Explosive) Limit (UFL/UEL):
Not available

Autoignition (Ignition) Temperature:
253 deg C (488 deg F) (13)

Sensitivity to Mechanical Impact:
Probably not sensitive. Stable material.

Sensitivity to Static Charge:
Liquid can probably accumulate static charge by flow or agitation.

Combustion and Thermal Decomposition Products:
Carbon monoxide

Fire Hazard Summary:
Flammable liquid. Can release vapours that form explosive mixtures with air at, or above, 35 deg C. Liquid can accumulate static charge by flow or agitation. Liquid can float on water and may travel to distant locations and/or spread fire. During a fire, irritating/toxic gases may be generated. Can accumulate in confined spaces, resulting in a toxicity and flammability hazard. Containers may explode in heat of fire.

Extinguishing Media:
Carbon dioxide, dry chemical powder, foam, water spray or fog. Water may be ineffective since it may not cool turpentine below its flash point.

Fire Fighting Instructions:
Evacuate area and fight fire from a safe distance or a protected location. Approach fire from upwind to avoid hazardous vapours and toxic decomposition products. Stop leak before attempting to put out 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.

Isolate materials not yet involved in the fire and protect personnel. Containers may explode in the heat of the fire. Move containers from fire area if this can be done without risk. Otherwise, keep cooling streams of water on fire-exposed tanks or containers.

Water may be ineffective for fighting fires involving turpentine because of the low flash point, unless used under favorable conditions by experienced firefighters trained in fighting all types of flammable liquid fires. However, water can be used on low flash point liquids when applied as a spray to absorb heat and protect exposed material of structures. If a leak or spill has not ignited, use water spray to disperse the vapours and to protect personnel attempting to stop a leak. Solid streams of water may be ineffective and spread material.

Do not enter without wearing specialized protective equipment suitable for the situation. Firefighter's normal protective clothing (Bunker Gear) will not provide adequate protection. Chemical resistant clothing (e.g. chemical splash suit) and positive pressure self-contained breathing apparatus (MSHA/NIOSH approved or equivalent) may be necessary.


NFPA - Health: 1 - Exposure would cause significant irritation, but only minor 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: Approximately 136

Conversion Factor:
1 ppm = 5.57 mg/m3; 1 mg/m3 = 0.1795 ppm at 25 deg C (approx.)

Physical State: Liquid
Melting Point: -50 to -60 deg C (-58 to -76 deg F) (2)
Boiling Point: 150 to 180 deg C (300 to 360 deg F) (2,10)
Relative Density (Specific Gravity): 0.860 to 0.875 (water = 1) (1)
Solubility in Water: Insoluble
Solubility in Other Liquids: Soluble in alcohol, benzene, chloroform, ether, carbon disulfide, petroleum ether and oils (10,26,27)
Coefficient of Oil/Water Distribution (Partition Coefficient): Not applicable
pH Value: Not applicable
Vapour Density: 4.7 (air = 1) (calculated)
Vapour Pressure: 5 mm Hg at 25 deg C (2)
Saturation Vapour Concentration: 6580 ppm at 25 deg C (calc.)
Evaporation Rate: <0.005 (n-butyl acetate = 1); 38 (diethyl ether = 1) (22)
Critical Temperature: Not available


Stable. Turpentine partially oxidizes upon exposure to both air and light.(15)

Hazardous Polymerization:
Not reported

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.

HALOGENS (fluorine, chlorine, iodine) - ignites on contact.(13,14)
OXIDIZERS - chromium trioxide reacts violently; chromyl chloride ignites turpentine (13,14); calcium hypochlorite - an explosion occurred when calcium hypochlorite was placed in what was thought to be an empty turpentine container.(13)
STANNIC CHLORIDE (tin (iv) chloride) - reacts to produce heat and sometimes flame.(13,14)
HEXACHLOROMELAMINE - reaction, with or without visible flame, which can lead to explosion.(13)
TRICHLOROMELAMINE - similar reaction as seen with hexachloromelamine but less rapid and with more flame and fume produced.(13)
CHROMIC ANHYDRIDE - will react violently.(13)
DIATOMACEOUS EARTH - a large quantity of discoloured and peroxidized turpentine heated along with Fuller's earth exploded.(14)

Hazardous Decomposition Products:
Not reported

Conditions to Avoid:
Sparks, open flames, heat and other sources of ignition

Corrosivity to Metals:
Not reported


LC50 (rat) : 2115 ppm (4-hour exposure); cited as 16.6 mg/L (2-hour exposure) (4)
LC50 (rat): 2470 ppm (4-hour exposure); cited as 13.7 mg/L (4-hour exposure) (4)
LC50 (rat): 2580 ppm (4-hour exposure); cited as 11.7 mg/L (6-hour exposure) (4)
LC50 (mouse): 1970 ppm (4-hour exposure); cited as 1610 ppm (6-hour exposure) (3)*
*Note: This study provides very few details on experimental methods and is not considered reliable.

Eye Irritation:

Contact of liquid with the eye causes immediate severe pain and spasm of the eyelid in rabbits, with subsequent redness, but no damage.(16) Cats show eye irritation when exposed to 540-720 ppm.(16)

Effects of Short-Term (Acute) Exposure:

Signs of central nervous system (CNS) depression, such as muscle incoordination, tremors, convulsions and increased respiratory rate were seen in rats, mice and guinea pigs during LC50 tests (1 to 6-hour exposures).(3,4) In one of the LC50 studies, slight lung congestion was seen in fatally-exposed rats, mice and guinea pigs. However, other organs were not affected.(3) In another LC50 study, no organ effects were seen in mice or rats.(4) No injury was seen in dogs exposed to 155-180 ppm for 3.5 hr/day for 8 days.(23)

Effects of Long-Term (Chronic) Exposure:

All female rats died following exposure to 5000 mg/m3 (900 ppm) for 6 hrs/day, 5 days/week for 12 weeks. Slight lung damage was seen in the female rats. Exposed dogs did not die, but similar minor lung injury, as well as slight generalized inactivity was observed. There were also no deaths in exposed male rats and guinea pigs. The only toxic sign in these species was slight generalized inactivity.(3) Minor liver and kidney changes were the only effects seen in guinea pigs exposed 45-58 times, for 4 hours at a time, to 715 ppm.(5) No behavioral changes were observed in male rats exposed for 6 hrs/day, 5 days/week for 8 weeks to 300 ppm. However, it was observed that turpentine (primarily alpha-pinene) accumulated in the brain and in the fat of the kidneys of the exposed rats.(6) No kidney effects were seen in male rats exposed for up to 293 hours. The study was designed to examine the effects of turpentine upon the kidney. The exact exposure concentrations were not known but were estimated to be about 900-1800 ppm (5000-10000 mg/m3).(9)

Inadequate information for evaluation. In one study, turpentine enhanced the carcinogenicity of a known carcinogen. However, this same effect was not seen in two other animal studies.(1)

Teratogenicity, Embryotoxicity and/or Fetotoxicity:
Increased mortality (59%), severe CNS depression and low body weight was seen in newborn rats born to mothers that had been exposed twice daily for 10 minutes to a saturated atmosphere during days 17 to 21 of pregnancy. During exposure the pregnant rats showed signs of toxicity (incoordination, salivation and increased respiratory rate). However, immediate recovery of the pregnant rats occurred when the exposure ended.(7)


Selected Bibliography:
(1) Santodonato, J., et al. Final report. Monograph on the potential carcinogenic risk to humans: turpentine (report no. SRC-TR-84-1123). Center for Chemical Hazard Assessment, 1985
(2) Occupational health guideline for turpentine. NIOSH/OSHA, 1978
(3) Inhalation toxicity of turpentine vapors studied. Industrial Hygiene News Report. Vol. 6, no. 3 (1963). p. 3-4
(4) Sperling, F., et al. Acute effects of turpentine vapor on rats and mice. Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology. Vol. 10 (1967). p. 8-20
(5) Smyth, H.F., et al. Inhalation experiments with certain lacquer solvents. Journal of Industrial Hygiene. Vol. 10, no. 8 (1928). p. 261-271
(6) Savolainen, H., et al. Effects of long-term turpentine inhalation on rat brain protein metabolism. Chemico-Biological Interactions. Vol. 21 (1978). p. 271-276
(7) Garcia-Estrade, J., et al. Cerebral cortex and body growth development of progeny of rats exposed to thinner and turpentine inhalation. General Pharmacology. Vol. 19, no. 3 (1988). p. 467-470
(8) Nelson, K.W., et al. Sensory response to certain industrial solvent vapors. Journal of Industrial Hygiene and Toxicology. Vol. 25, no. 7 (1943). p. 282-285
(9) Chapman, E.M. Observations on the effect of paint on the kidneys with particular reference to the role of turpentine. Journal of Industrial Hygiene and Toxicology. Vol. 23, no. 7 (1941). p. 277-289
(10) Documentation of the threshold limit values. 6th ed. ACGIH, 1991. p. 1666
(11) Harbeson, A.E. A case of turpentine poisoning. Canadian Medical Association Journal (Nov. 1936). p. 549-550
(12) Sperling, F., et al. Changes in LD50 of parathion and heptachlor following turpentine pretreatment. Environmental Research. Vol. 5, no. 2 (1972). p. 164-171
(13) Fire protection guide to hazardous materials. 13th ed. Edited by A.B. Spencer, et al. National Fire Protection Association, 2002. NFPA 325; NFPA 491
(14) Bretherick, L. Handbook of reactive chemical hazards. 4th ed. Butterworths, 1990. p. 923, 1177, 1129, 877, 1705-1706, 1819-1820
(15) Pirila, V., et al. On the chemical nature of the eczematogenic agent in oil of turpentine, I. Dermatologica. Vol. 110, no. 2 (1955). p. 144-155
(16) Grant, W.M. Toxicology of the eye. 4th ed. Charles C. Thomas, 1993. p. 1480-1
(17) Occupational and Industrial Dermatology. Maibach, H.I., et al. editors. Year Book Medical Publishers, 1982. p. 333-337
(18) Romaguera, A., et al. Turpentine sensitization. Contact Dermatitis. Vol. 14, no. 3 (1986). p. 197
(19) Forsberg, K., et al. Quick selection guide to chemical protective clothing. 4th ed. Van Nostrand Reinhold, 2002
(20) Dooms-Goossens, A.E., et al. Contact dermatitis caused by airborne agents. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. Vol. 15, no. 1 (1986). p. 1-10
(21) Personal communication. Hercules Canada Inc. March 5, 1991
(22) Stoye, D. Solvents: solvent groups: In: Ullmann's encyclopedia of industrial chemistry. 7th ed. John Wiley and Sons, 2005. Available at: <> {Subscription required}
(23) Toxicology and hygiene of industrial solvents. Williams & Wilkins Company, 1943. p. 295-298
(24) Odor thresholds and irritation levels of several chemical substances : a review. American Industrial Association Journal. Vol. 47 (March 1986). p. A142-A151
(25) NIOSH pocket guide to chemical hazards. NIOSH, June, 1994. p. 324-325
(26) Turpentine. Printout from HSDB. 91-01-07
(27) The Merck index: an encyclopedia of chemicals, drugs, and biologicals. 11th ed. Merck, 1989. p. 1545
(28) European Communities. Commission Directive 98/98/EC. December 15, 1998
(29) Moura, C., et al. Contact dermatitis in painters, polishers and varnishers. Contact Dermatitis. Vol. 31 (1994). p. 51-53
(30) Filipsson, A.F. Short term inhalation exposure to turpentine: toxicokinetics and acute effects in men. Occupational and Environmental Medicine. Vol. 53 (1996). p. 100-105
(31) Younger Labs. Initial submission: Toxicological investigation on: gum spirits of turpentine. Monsanto Company. Date produced: Aug. 1, 1978. EPA/OTS 88-920007661. NTIS/OTS0545856.

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: 1997-03-14

Revision Indicators:
US Transport 1998-03-01
TLV comments 1999-03-01
EU Class 2000-04-01
EU Risk 2000-04-01
EU Safety 2000-04-01
EU Comments 2000-04-01
OSHA hazcom 2002-06-14
Bibliography 2003-04-19
Materials to avoid 2003-04-19
Synonyms 2003-05-05
Flash point 2003-05-05
Evaporation rate 2003-05-05
TLV-TWA 2003-05-23
TLV proposed changes 2003-05-23
Carcinogenicity 2003-05-26
PEL transitional comments 2003-11-06
PEL-TWA final 2003-11-06
Toxicological info 2004-02-26
Resistance of materials for PPE 2004-03-28
WHMIS classification comments 2004-11-19
WHMIS detailed classification 2005-01-19
Evaporation rate 2005-12-08
Bibliography 2006-04-25

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