Vinyl Acetate

Vinyl acetate is a clear, colourless liquid with the molecular formula C4H6O2. It has a sweet, pleasant, fruity smell, but the odour may be sharp and irritating to some people. You can easily smell vinyl acetate when it is in the air at levels around 0.5 ppm. It readily evaporates into air and dissolves easily in water. Vinyl acetate is flammable and may be ignited by heat, sparks, or flames. [fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][1,2]


Uses [1]


Vinyl acetate is used to make other industrial chemicals (such as polyvinyl acetate polymers and ethylene-vinyl acetate copolymers). These other chemicals are used mostly to make glues for the packaging and building industries. They are also used to make paints, textiles, and paper. 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.


In the Environment [1,3]


  • Vinyl acetate does not occur naturally in the environment. It enters the environment from factories and facilities that make, use, store, or dispose of 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 in water.
  • It is not known how long vinyl acetate stays in the soil


Sources and Routes of Exposure [1]


Sources of Exposure


Industrial facilities, accidental spills, contact with products that contain vinyl acetate, and hazardous waste disposal sites are possible sources of exposure to vinyl acetate. The most important way that you can be exposed to vinyl acetate if you live around factories that make, use, store, and dispose of vinyl acetate on site or if you live near waste sites in which vinyl acetate or products that contain vinyl acetate have been disposed, is by breathing air or drinking water that contain it. You can also be exposed to vinyl acetate by skin contact with products that were made with vinyl acetate, such as glues and paints. Exposure can also occur through ingestion of food items that were packaged in plastic films containing vinyl acetate or food items that contain vinyl acetate as a starch modifier. However, exposure to vinyl acetate occurs mostly in the workplace. Workers can breathe in the chemical when they are making it or using it to make other chemicals. Workers can also have skin contact with vinyl acetate solutions.


Routes of Exposure


Vinyl acetate can enter your body:

  • through your lungs when you breathe air containing it,
  • through your stomach and intestines when you eat food or drink water containing it, or
  • through your skin.


Health Effects [4]


Acute Effects


  • Acute inhalation exposure of workers to vinyl acetate has resulted in eye irritation and upper respiratory tract irritation.
  • Nasal irritation, laboured breathing, lung damage, and convulsions have been observed in rodents acutely exposed to high levels of vinyl acetate by inhalation.
  • Acute animal tests in rats, mice, and rabbits have demonstrated vinyl acetate to have moderate acute toxicity by inhalation, oral, or dermal exposure.


Chronic Effects


  • Chronic occupational exposure did not result in any severe adverse effects in workers. Some instances of upper respiratory tract irritation, cough, and/or hoarseness were reported.
  • Nasal epithelial lesions and irritation and inflammation of the respiratory tract were observed in mice and rats chronically exposed by inhalation.
  • The Reference Concentration (RfC) for vinyl acetate is 0.2 milligrams per cubic metre (mg/m3) based on nasal epithelial lesions in rats and mice.
  • EPA has calculated a provisional Reference Dose (RfD) for vinyl acetate of 1.0 milligrams per kilogram body weight per day (mg/kg/day) based on altered body and kidney weights in rats.


Reproductive/Developmental Effects


  • No information is available on the reproductive or developmental effects of vinyl acetate on humans.
  • In one study, reduced body weight gain was reported in rats exposed to high levels of vinyl acetate by inhalation. Foetal growth retardation occurred at the highest exposure level but may have been due to the marked reduction in maternal body weight gain and not to a direct developmental effect of vinyl acetate on the foetus. Minor skeletal foetal defects/variants were also observed at the highest exposure level, but these effects may have been secondary to maternal toxicity.
  • Reduced body weight gain was reported in study of rats exposed to vinyl acetate in their drinking water; no effects on reproductive performance were noted.


Cancer Risk


  • No information is available on the carcinogenic effects of vinyl acetate in humans.
  • An increased incidence of nasal cavity tumours has been observed in rats exposed by inhalation, but not mice.
  • In rats exposed to vinyl acetate in drinking water, an increased tumour incidence (including neoplastic nodules of the liver, adenocarcinomas of the uterus [in females], and C-cell adenomas or carcinomas of the thyroid) was reported. However, there are many limitations to this study.
  • In another drinking water study, no treatment-related tumours were observed in rats.
  • EPA has not classified vinyl acetate as to its possible human carcinogenicity.


Safety [5]


First Aid Measures


  • Eye Contact: Check for and remove any contact lenses. Immediately flush eyes with running water for at least 15 minutes, keeping eyelids open. Cold water may be used. Do not use an eye ointment. Seek medical attention.
  • Skin Contact: After contact with skin, wash immediately with plenty of water. Gently and thoroughly wash the contaminated skin with running water and non-abrasive soap. Be particularly careful to clean folds, crevices, creases and groin. Cold water may be used. Cover the irritated skin with an emollient. If irritation persists, seek medical attention. Wash contaminated clothing before reusing.
  • Serious Skin Contact: Wash with a disinfectant soap and cover the contaminated skin with an anti-bacterial cream. Seek immediate medical attention.
  • Inhalation: Allow the victim to rest in a well-ventilated area. Seek immediate medical attention.
  • Serious Inhalation: Evacuate the victim to a safe area as soon as possible. Loosen tight clothing such as a collar, tie, belt or waistband. If breathing is difficult, administer oxygen. If the victim is not breathing, perform mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. WARNING: It may be hazardous to the person providing aid to give mouth-to-mouth resuscitation when the inhaled material is toxic, infectious or corrosive. Seek medical attention.
  • Ingestion: Do not induce vomiting. Examine the lips and mouth to ascertain whether the tissues are damaged, a possible indication that the toxic material was ingested; the absence of such signs, however, is not conclusive. Loosen tight clothing such as a collar, tie, belt or waistband. If the victim is not breathing, perform mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. Seek immediate medical attention.


Fire Information


  • Vinyl acetate is flammable.
  • Auto-Ignition Temperature: 402°C (755.6°F)
  • Flash Points: CLOSED CUP: -7.8°C (18°F). OPEN CUP: 0.7°C (33.3°F) (TAG).
  • Products of Combustion: These products are carbon oxides (CO, CO2).
  • Vinyl acetate is flammable in the presence of open flames and sparks.
  • Fire Fighting Instructions: for small fires use dry chemical powder and for large fires use alcohol foam, water spray or fog.


Exposure Controls & Personal Protection


Engineering Controls


  • When vinyl acetate is being used, exhaust ventilation or other engineering controls should be used to keep the airborne concentrations of vapours below their respective threshold limit value.
  • Ensure that eyewash stations and safety showers are proximal to the workstation location.


Personal Protective Equipment


The following personal protective equipment is recommended when handling vinyl acetate:

  • Splash goggles;
  • Lab coat;
  • Vapour respirator (be sure to use an approved/certified respirator or equivalent);
  • Gloves.


Personal Protection in Case of a Large Spill:

  • Splash goggles;
  • Full suit;
  • Vapour respirator;
  • Boots;
  • Gloves;
  • A self-contained breathing apparatus should be used to avoid inhalation of the product.
  • Suggested protective clothing might not be sufficient; consult a specialist BEFORE handling this product.




United States [3]


  • EPA: The Environmental Protection Agency requires that discharges or accidental spills into the environment of 5,000 pounds or more of vinyl acetate be reported to the EPA.
  • FDA: The Food and Drug Administration 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.
  • ACGIH: The American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists 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.
  • NIOSH: The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health recommends that exposure to vinyl acetate in the workplace not exceed 4 ppm over a 15-minute period.


Australia [6]


Safe Work Australia: Safe Work Australia has established the following exposure limits for vinyl acetate:

  • Time Weighted Average (TWA) of 10ppm and 35mg/m3 for a 8 hour workday
  • Short Term Exposure Limit (STEL) of 20ppm for a 15 minute TWA