2-Nitropropane Profile

2-Nitropropane Profile

General Information

2-Nitropropane is a colourless, oily liquid with a mild and sweet odour.[1,2] It is flammable and soluble in water.[1] It may also be referred to as dimethylnitromethane or isonitropropane.[2] There are numerous other synonyms and product names; see HSDB for more information.[3]

2-Nitropropane was classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) as Group 2B, possibly carcinogenic to humans, based on animal studies linking exposure to liver cancer in rats.[4] The carcinogenicity of 2-nitropropane in humans was not evaluated due to the lack of adequate epidemiological data.[4]

Chronic inhalation of 2-nitropropane in occupational settings is associated with nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, severe headaches, and pulmonary irritation.[5] Acute exposure to high concentrations of 2-nitropropane can cause liver damage and death.[5,6]

Regulations and Guidelines

Occupational exposure limits (OEL) [7,8,9,10,11,12,13,14,15,16,17,18,19,20,21]

Canadian JurisdictionsOEL (ppm)
Canada Labour Code10
AB, MB, ON, QC, NL, PE, NB, NS10
SK, NT, NU10
20 [stel]
Other JurisdictionsOEL (ppm)
ACGIH 2020 TLV10
ppm = parts per million
stel = short term exposure limit (15 min. maximum)
c = ceiling (not to be exceeded at any time)
TLV = threshold limit value (8 hour maximum)
ACGIH = American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists

Canadian environmental guidelines

Environment Canada’s National Pollutant Release InventoryReportable to NPRI if manufactured, processed, or otherwise used at quantities greater than 10 tonnes2016[22]
CE = permitted as carriers or extraction solvents
ppm = parts per million

2-Nitropropane was removed from the List of Permitted Food Additives in 2016.[23] 

Canadian agencies/organizations

Health CanadaDSL – high priority substance with intermediate potential for exposure2006[24]
Challenge to IndustryBatch 82010[25]
DSL = domestic substance list


2-Nitropropane was not included in other Canadian government guidelines, standards, or chemical listings reviewed.

Main Uses

2-Nitropropane is primarily used as a solvent in inks, paints, varnishes, coatings, adhesives, and various organic compound resins.[1,4] 2-Nitropropane is also used as a chemical intermediate in producing propane derivatives such as 2-nitro-2-methyl-1-propanol and 2-amino-2-methyl-1-propanol.[1,2] It is used to a lesser extent as: a component in paint and varnish removers;[6] a chemical intermediate in manufacturing pharmaceuticals, dyes, insecticides, and textile chemicals;[5,6] and an additive in explosives, propellants, and fuels for internal combustion.[1]

Canadian Production and Trade

2-Nitropropane is not manufactured in reportable quantities in Canada.[5] No quantitative Canadian commercial production and trade information was found for 2-nitropropane.[26,27]

Environmental Exposures Overview

Environmental exposure to 2-nitropropane is estimated to be very low in Canada.[2,6] Sources of potential environmental exposure include contaminated ambient air and water near industrial sites of 2-nitropropane manufacture and use, as well as cigarette

2-Nitropropane may be present in trace amounts in certain pharmaceuticals that use 2-nitropropane as a chemical intermediate during production.[6] Approximately 1.1-1.2 µg of 2-nitropropane is present in the mainstream smoke of a single unfiltered

Exposure may also occur by consuming foods processed with solvents containing 2-nitropropane or packaged with materials containing 2-nitropropane, such as beverage can coatings and packaging inks.[2,6] Recent food packaging submissions to Health Canada’s Food Directorate suggest that the latter use is unlikely in Canada.[6] Using 2-nitropropane as a carrier and extraction solvent in vegetable oil is permitted in Canada, though this is no longer practiced.[6,22] The World Health Organization does not recommend using 2-nitropropane in food processing, however Canadians may be exposed by consuming imported foods processed with 2-nitropropane.[2,6]

Use of 2-nitropropane in consumer products has largely been eliminated. Adhesives, paints, and coatings containing 2-nitropropane are mostly used in industrial and commercial applications.[6] Release of 2-nitropropane into the environment is reportable to the NPRI in Canada. No releases have been reported since 1996, when 0.125 tonnes were released by 1 company involved in plastics and foam manufacture.[6,28]

2-Nitropropane is not included in the Household Products Database.[29]

Occupational Exposures Overview

Inhalation is the most important route of occupational exposure to 2-nitropropane, although ingestion and dermal exposures are also possible.[1,2] The main occupations exposed include: workers involved in 2-nitropropane manufacturing and handling; paint, ink, pigment coating, and varnish production; printing and painting; industrial construction and maintenance; shipbuilding and maintenance; furniture manufacturing; tire manufacturing; food packaging; and scientific research.[1,2]

Since producing 2-nitropropane is often an enclosed process, exposure is limited.[2] The highest exposures occur during handling, transport, and use of 2-nitropropane and 2-nitropropane-containing products.[2]

CAREX Canada has not prioritized 2-nitropropane for exposure estimate development. This is because there is a lack of exposure monitoring data in the Canadian Workplace Exposure Database on which to base an estimate.


Photo: Flickr, Kenneth Moyle

1. National Toxicology Profile (NTP). 14th NTP report on carcinogens for 2-Nitropropane (2016) (PDF)
2. World Health Organization (WHO). Environmental Health Criteria 138: 2-Nitropropane (1992)
3. US National Library of Medicine. Hazardous Substances Data Bank (HSDB) (Search term: ‘2-Nitropropane’)
4. International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). Monograph Vol.71 (Group 2B) (1999)
5. US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Technology Transfer Network Air Toxics Web Site: 2-Nitropropane (2007)
12. Government of Newfoundland and Labrador. Regulation 5,12 Occupational Health and Safety Regulations (2018)
13. Government of the Northwest Territories. Occupational Health and Safety Regulations, R-039-2015 (2020) (PDF)
15. The Canadian Legal Information Institute (CanLII). Government of Nunavut’s Occupational Health and Safety Regulations, Nu Reg 003-2016 (2010)
17. Government of Prince Edward Island. Occupational Health and Safety Act Regulations Chapter 0-1 (2013) (PDF)
19. Government of Saskatchewan. The Occupational Health and Safety Regulations, 1996 (2016) (PDF)
20. The Canadian Legal Information Institute (CanLII). Yukon’s Occupational Health Regulations, O.I.C. 1986/164 (2020) (PDF)
21. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Annotated PELs (2020)
26. Camford Information Services (2005) CPI Product Profiles
27. International Trade Centre. Trademap (2010) (Free subscription required)
28. Environment and Climate Change Canada. National Pollutant Release Inventory (NPRI) Facility Search (Substance name: ‘2-Nitropropane’)
29. US National Library of Medicine. Household Products Database (2016) (Search term: ‘2-Nitropropane)

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