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Methyl methacrylate – toxicity, side effects, diseases and environmental impacts

Thursday, November 16, 2017 by

Methacrylates appear as colorless liquid with an acrid, fruity odor. They are used as building blocks in making a wide range of polymers. These polymers are then used as raw materials or components to make various formulations such as acrylic glass (polymethyl methacrylates) and coating resin. It is also used in the manufacture of everyday objects – giving stability, durability, hardness and scratch resistance to these objects. Methyl methacrylate is the most produced methacrylate monomer to date.

Methacrylates were discovered during the 19th century and industrialized in the first half of the 20th century. It has a molecular formula of C5H8O2.

List of known side effects

Methyl methacrylate is highly flammable in its liquid and vapor forms. Contact with this substance can result in skin corrosion, and it may trigger an allergic skin reaction. Furthermore, this substance can cause serious eye damage.

If inhaled, methyl methacrylate can cause respiratory irritation and labored breathing, and may progress into asthmatic symptoms. Additionally, it may induce narcotic effects such as drowsiness or dizziness.

Despite these effects, methyl methacrylate is not classified as carcinogenic to humans from lack of carcinogenicity as evidenced in animal studies.

Body systems affected by methyl methacrylate

Based on non-human toxicity studies, acute exposure to methyl methacrylate may result in kidney and liver lesions resembling those caused by carbon tetrachloride.

Methyl methacrylate at 3000 and 5000 parts per million (ppm) dosages in female laboratory specimens caused extensive liver and kidney necrosis, inflammation of the nasal cavity, pulmonary damage and congestion of the brain (to name a few). Additionally, short-term exposures in rat and mouse models resulted in decreases in body weight, increases in respiration rate and even death.

Items that can contain methyl methacrylate

Methyl methacrylate are used to make polymers, which serve as raw materials for manufacturing various objects. The following industries use methyl methacrylate:

  • As intermediates in acrylic fiber manufacture.
  • As monomers for fibrous materials in impregnating agents.
  • As solvents in paint manufacture.
  • As photopolymers in printing.
  • As impregnation agents in pulp and paper manufacture, and wood manufacture.
  • As electrophotographic carrier core materials in reprographic agents.

How to avoid methyl methacrylate

Methyl methacrylate is a hazardous chemical with irritating effects to the eyes and skin. Inhalation and ingestion of methyl methacrylate are also highly dangerous to your health.

In case of contact to the eyes, an immediate solution is to remove contact lenses (if applicable) and wash your eyes with running water at least 15 minutes with your eyelids open. Seek medical attention as soon as possible.

After contact with skin, gently wash the contaminated part with plenty of water and non-abrasive soap. After drying, cover the exposed part with emollient. In case of prolonged or serious exposure, wash the contaminated area with disinfectant soap and apply antibacterial cream. Wash any contaminated clothing item thoroughly before reusing.

Remove the victim of accidental inhalation from the area of exposure to rest in a well-ventilated area. In case of accidental ingestion, do not induce vomiting. Loosen tight clothing such as a collar, tie or belt, and seek urgent medical help.

Where to learn more


Methyl methacrylate is a hazardous chemical used in making polymers, which are the raw materials in many formulations and everyday objects. It appears as a colorless liquid with an acrid, fruity odor.

Methyl methacrylate is highly flammable and can cause damage to the eyes and skin. It affects the respiratory tract when inhaled and can be a serious hazard when ingested. High levels of exposure can even cause kidney and liver lesions based on animal toxicity studies.

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