What is Phenanthrene?

Phenanthrene (chemical formula: C14H10), is a white crystalline powder. It does not mix with water, but is soluble in aromatic hydrocarbons, such as chloroform and ether. Phenanthrene is both naturally occurring and manufactured.  

What is Phenanthrene used for?

Phenanthrene is used in the production of plastics, explosives, drugs, pesticides and dyes, as well as in the production of bile acids, steroids and cholesterol. It is a raw material of phenanthrenequinone, which is widely used in the synthesis of dyes, agrochemical and preservatives.

Phenanthrene can be used as a feedstock of carbon black, a reinforcing agent in the tire industry
Phenanthrene can be used as a feedstock of carbon black, a reinforcing agent in the tire industry

Phenanthrene Hazards

The routes of exposure for phenanthrene include inhalation, ingestion and skin and eye contact. 

Inhalation of phenanthrene may produce irritation and inflammation of the respiratory tract. Individuals with existing respiratory diseases such as emphysema and chronic bronchitis as well as circulatory/nervous system or kidney damage, may incur further disablement if excessive concentrations are inhaled. 

Ingestion of phenanthrene may be harmful, with less than 150g is expected to be the fatal dose. If this dose does not cause death, it may produce other serious damage to the health of the individual. 

Skin exposure to phenanthrene can produce inflammation, irritation, redness, swelling, blistering and scaling. The material may also worsen any existing dermatitis conditions. 

Exposure to phenanthrene may also result in a form of sunlight-initiated dermatitis called phototoxicity. Open cuts and wounds should be protected adequately to ensure phenanthrene does not enter the bloodstream to produce further systemic injury. 

Eye exposure is expected to cause irritation and ocular lesions that can remain for over a day after the exposure. Prolonged exposure can cause inflammation, redness, vision impairment and other transient eye damage. 

Based on animal experiments, there is reason to believe that phenanthrene may have carcinogenic or mutagenic effects, however there is currently not enough information to confirm this conclusion.

Phenanthrene Safety

If inhaled, remove the patient from the contaminated area to the nearest fresh air source. Lay the patient down and keep them warm and rested. If the patient is not breathing and you are qualified to do so, perform CPR, preferably with a bag-valve mask device. Transport to hospital without delay. 

If swallowed, urgent hospital treatment is likely to be required. Personnel qualified in first-aid should observe and treat the patient in the meantime. If medical attention is more than 15 minutes away, inducing vomiting may be recommended. It is important that the patient is leaned forward or placed on their left side during this process in order to prevent aspiration. 

If skin exposure occurs, remove all contaminated clothing and footwear and immediately flush the affected area with plenty of soap and water. Seek medical attention in the event of irritation. 

If the chemical is exposed to the eyes, flush the eyes out immediately with fresh running water, remembering to wash under the eyelids. Contact lenses should only be removed by skilled personnel. Seek medical attention without delay. 

Phenanthrene Safety Handling

Emergency eyewash fountains and safety showers should be accessible in the immediate area of the potential exposure to the chemical and there should always be adequate ventilation to remove or dilute any air contaminants to prevent overexposure (install local exhaust if necessary). 

The PPE recommended when handling phenanthrene includes; safety glasses with side shields, chemical goggles, filter dust respirators, PVC/rubber gloves, PVC aprons, overalls and safety footwear. Skin cleansing and barrier creams are also recommended in the event skin contact occurs. 

Refer to the SDS before handling phenanthrene and any unfamiliar chemicals to prevent harmful consequences. Click here for a trial of our SDS Management Software or contact us at for more information about our chemicals management solutions. 

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