Acetone

Acetone

Overview
Acetone is the organic compound
Organic compound
An organic compound is any member of a large class of gaseous, liquid, or solid chemical compounds whose molecules contain carbon. For historical reasons discussed below, a few types of carbon-containing compounds such as carbides, carbonates, simple oxides of carbon, and cyanides, as well as the...

 with the formula
Chemical formula
A chemical formula or molecular formula is a way of expressing information about the atoms that constitute a particular chemical compound....

 (CH3)2CO, a colorless, mobile, flammable liquid, the simplest example of the ketone
Ketone
In organic chemistry, a ketone is an organic compound with the structure RCR', where R and R' can be a variety of atoms and groups of atoms. It features a carbonyl group bonded to two other carbon atoms. Many ketones are known and many are of great importance in industry and in biology...

s.

Acetone is miscible with water and serves as an important solvent
Solvent
A solvent is a liquid, solid, or gas that dissolves another solid, liquid, or gaseous solute, resulting in a solution that is soluble in a certain volume of solvent at a specified temperature...

 in its own right, typically as the solvent of choice for cleaning purposes in the laboratory. About 6.7 million tonne
Tonne
The tonne, known as the metric ton in the US , often put pleonastically as "metric tonne" to avoid confusion with ton, is a metric system unit of mass equal to 1000 kilograms. The tonne is not an International System of Units unit, but is accepted for use with the SI...

s were produced worldwide in 2010, mainly for use as a solvent and production of methyl methacrylate
Methyl methacrylate
Methyl methacrylate is an organic compound with the formula CH2=CCOOCH3. This colourless liquid, the methyl ester of methacrylic acid is a monomer produced on a large scale for the production of poly .-Production:...

 and bisphenol A
Bisphenol A
Bisphenol A is an organic compound with two phenol functional groups. It is used to make polycarbonate plastic and epoxy resins, along with other applications....

.
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Unanswered Questions
Encyclopedia
Acetone is the organic compound
Organic compound
An organic compound is any member of a large class of gaseous, liquid, or solid chemical compounds whose molecules contain carbon. For historical reasons discussed below, a few types of carbon-containing compounds such as carbides, carbonates, simple oxides of carbon, and cyanides, as well as the...

 with the formula
Chemical formula
A chemical formula or molecular formula is a way of expressing information about the atoms that constitute a particular chemical compound....

 (CH3)2CO, a colorless, mobile, flammable liquid, the simplest example of the ketone
Ketone
In organic chemistry, a ketone is an organic compound with the structure RCR', where R and R' can be a variety of atoms and groups of atoms. It features a carbonyl group bonded to two other carbon atoms. Many ketones are known and many are of great importance in industry and in biology...

s.

Acetone is miscible with water and serves as an important solvent
Solvent
A solvent is a liquid, solid, or gas that dissolves another solid, liquid, or gaseous solute, resulting in a solution that is soluble in a certain volume of solvent at a specified temperature...

 in its own right, typically as the solvent of choice for cleaning purposes in the laboratory. About 6.7 million tonne
Tonne
The tonne, known as the metric ton in the US , often put pleonastically as "metric tonne" to avoid confusion with ton, is a metric system unit of mass equal to 1000 kilograms. The tonne is not an International System of Units unit, but is accepted for use with the SI...

s were produced worldwide in 2010, mainly for use as a solvent and production of methyl methacrylate
Methyl methacrylate
Methyl methacrylate is an organic compound with the formula CH2=CCOOCH3. This colourless liquid, the methyl ester of methacrylic acid is a monomer produced on a large scale for the production of poly .-Production:...

 and bisphenol A
Bisphenol A
Bisphenol A is an organic compound with two phenol functional groups. It is used to make polycarbonate plastic and epoxy resins, along with other applications....

. Familiar household uses of acetone are as the active ingredient in nail polish remover and as paint thinner. It is a common building block in organic chemistry.

Acetone is naturally produced and disposed of in the human body as a result of normal metabolic processes. It is normally present in blood and urine. Diabetic people produce it in larger amounts. Reproductive toxicity tests show that it has low potential to cause reproductive problems. In fact, the body naturally increases the level of acetone in pregnant women, nursing mothers and children because their higher energy requirements lead to higher levels of acetone production. Ketogenic diet
Ketogenic diet
The ketogenic diet is a high-fat, adequate-protein, low-carbohydrate diet that in medicine is used primarily to treat difficult-to-control epilepsy in children. The diet mimics aspects of starvation by forcing the body to burn fats rather than carbohydrates...

s that increase acetone in the body are used to reduce epileptic attacks in infants and children who suffer from recalcitrant refractory epilepsy.

Production


In 2010, the worldwide production capacity for acetone was estimated at 6.7 million tonnes per year. With 1.56 million tonnes per year, the United States had the highest production capacity, followed by Taiwan
Taiwan
Taiwan , also known, especially in the past, as Formosa , is the largest island of the same-named island group of East Asia in the western Pacific Ocean and located off the southeastern coast of mainland China. The island forms over 99% of the current territory of the Republic of China following...

 and mainland China
Mainland China
Mainland China, the Chinese mainland or simply the mainland, is a geopolitical term that refers to the area under the jurisdiction of the People's Republic of China . According to the Taipei-based Mainland Affairs Council, the term excludes the PRC Special Administrative Regions of Hong Kong and...

. The largest producer of acetone is INEOS Phenol, owning 17% of the world's capacity, with also significant capacity (7-8%) by Mitsui
Mitsui
is one of the largest corporate conglomerates in Japan and one of the largest publicly traded companies in the world.-History:Founded by Mitsui Takatoshi , who was the fourth son of a shopkeeper in Matsusaka, in what is now today's Mie prefecture...

, Sunoco
Sunoco
Sunoco Inc. is an American petroleum and petrochemical manufacturer headquartered in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States, formerly known as Sun Company Inc. and Sun Oil Co. ....

 and Shell
Royal Dutch Shell
Royal Dutch Shell plc , commonly known as Shell, is a global oil and gas company headquartered in The Hague, Netherlands and with its registered office in London, United Kingdom. It is the fifth-largest company in the world according to a composite measure by Forbes magazine and one of the six...

 in 2010. INEOS Phenol also owns the world's largest production site (420,000 tonnes/annum) in Beveren
Beveren
Beveren is a municipality located in the Belgian province of East Flanders. The municipality comprises the towns of Beveren proper, Doel, Haasdonk, Kallo, Kieldrecht, Melsele, Verrebroek and Vrasene....

 (Belgium). The price of acetone varied in 2010 between $75 and $110/tonne in the United States and $90 and 100 in Western Europe.

Production Process


Acetone is produced directly or indirectly from propylene
Propylene
Propene, also known as propylene or methylethylene, is an unsaturated organic compound having the chemical formula C3H6. It has one double bond, and is the second simplest member of the alkene class of hydrocarbons, and it is also second in natural abundance.-Properties:At room temperature and...

. Approximately 83 % of acetone is produced via the cumene process
Cumene process
The Cumene process is an industrial process for developing phenol and acetone from benzene and propylene. The term stems from cumene , the intermediate material during the process. It was invented by Heinrich Hock in 1944 and independently by R. Ūdris and P...

, as a result, acetone production is tied to phenol production. In the cumene process, benzene
Benzene
Benzene is an organic chemical compound. It is composed of 6 carbon atoms in a ring, with 1 hydrogen atom attached to each carbon atom, with the molecular formula C6H6....

 is alkylated with propylene and the resulting cumene
Cumene
Cumene is the common name for isopropylbenzene, an organic compound that is an aromatic hydrocarbon. It is a constituent of crude oil and refined fuels. It is a flammable colorless liquid that has a boiling point of 152 °C...

 (isopropylbenzene) is oxidized by air to give phenol
Phenol
Phenol, also known as carbolic acid, phenic acid, is an organic compound with the chemical formula C6H5OH. It is a white crystalline solid. The molecule consists of a phenyl , bonded to a hydroxyl group. It is produced on a large scale as a precursor to many materials and useful compounds...

 and acetone:


Other processes involve the direct oxidation of propylene (Wacker-Hoechst process), or the hydration of propylene to give 2-propanol, which is oxidized to acetone.

Older production methods


Previously, acetone was produced by the dry distillation
Dry distillation
Dry distillation is the heating of solid materials to produce gaseous products . The method may or may not involve pyrolysis/thermolysis. The products are condensed and collected. This method usually requires higher temperatures than classical distillation. The method has been used to obtain...

 of acetate
Acetate
An acetate is a derivative of acetic acid. This term includes salts and esters, as well as the anion found in solution. Most of the approximately 5 billion kilograms of acetic acid produced annually in industry are used in the production of acetates, which usually take the form of polymers. In...

s, for example calcium acetate
Calcium acetate
The chemical compound calcium acetate is the calcium salt of acetic acid. It has the formula Ca2. Its standard name is calcium acetate, while calcium ethanoate is the systematic IUPAC name. An older name is acetate of lime...

. During World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

 acetone was produced via bacterial fermentation
Fermentation (biochemistry)
Fermentation is the process of extracting energy from the oxidation of organic compounds, such as carbohydrates, using an endogenous electron acceptor, which is usually an organic compound. In contrast, respiration is where electrons are donated to an exogenous electron acceptor, such as oxygen,...

, as developed by Chaim Weizmann
Chaim Weizmann
Chaim Azriel Weizmann, , was a Zionist leader, President of the Zionist Organization, and the first President of the State of Israel. He was elected on 1 February 1949, and served until his death in 1952....

 (later the first president of Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

) in order to help the British war effort. This Acetone Butanol Ethanol process
Clostridium acetobutylicum
Clostridium acetobutylicum, ATCC 824, is included in the genus Clostridium, is a commercially valuable bacterium sometimes called the "Weizmann Organism", after Jewish-Russian born Chaim Weizmann, then senior lecturer at the University of Manchester, England, used them in 1916 as a bio-chemical...

 was abandoned due to the small yields.

Biosynthesis



Small amounts of acetone are produced in the body by the decarboxylation
Decarboxylation
Decarboxylation is a chemical reaction that releases carbon dioxide . Usually, decarboxylation refers to a reaction of carboxylic acids, removing a carbon atom from a carbon chain. The reverse process, which is the first chemical step in photosynthesis, is called carbonation, the addition of CO2 to...

 of ketone bodies
Ketone bodies
Ketone bodies are three water-soluble compounds that are produced as by-products when fatty acids are broken down for energy in the liver and kidney. They are used as a source of energy in the heart and brain. In the brain, they are a vital source of energy during fasting...

. Since it is a byproduct of fermentation, acetone is a byproduct of the distillery industry.

Uses


About a third of the world's acetone is used as a solvent, and a quarter is consumed as a precursor to methyl methacrylate
Methyl methacrylate
Methyl methacrylate is an organic compound with the formula CH2=CCOOCH3. This colourless liquid, the methyl ester of methacrylic acid is a monomer produced on a large scale for the production of poly .-Production:...

.

Solvent use


Acetone is a good solvent for most plastics and synthetic fibers including those used in laboratory bottles made of polystyrene
Polystyrene
Polystyrene ) also known as Thermocole, abbreviated following ISO Standard PS, is an aromatic polymer made from the monomer styrene, a liquid hydrocarbon that is manufactured from petroleum by the chemical industry...

, polycarbonate
Polycarbonate
PolycarbonatePhysical PropertiesDensity 1.20–1.22 g/cm3Abbe number 34.0Refractive index 1.584–1.586FlammabilityV0-V2Limiting oxygen index25–27%Water absorption – Equilibrium0.16–0.35%Water absorption – over 24 hours0.1%...

 and some types of polypropylene
Polypropylene
Polypropylene , also known as polypropene, is a thermoplastic polymer used in a wide variety of applications including packaging, textiles , stationery, plastic parts and reusable containers of various types, laboratory equipment, loudspeakers, automotive components, and polymer banknotes...

. It is ideal for thinning fiberglass
Fiberglass
Glass fiber is a material consisting of numerous extremely fine fibers of glass.Glassmakers throughout history have experimented with glass fibers, but mass manufacture of glass fiber was only made possible with the invention of finer machine tooling...

 resin, cleaning fiberglass tools and dissolving two-part epoxies
Epoxy
Epoxy, also known as polyepoxide, is a thermosetting polymer formed from reaction of an epoxide "resin" with polyamine "hardener". Epoxy has a wide range of applications, including fiber-reinforced plastic materials and general purpose adhesives....

 and superglue before hardening. It is used as a volatile component of some paint
Paint
Paint is any liquid, liquefiable, or mastic composition which after application to a substrate in a thin layer is converted to an opaque solid film. One may also consider the digital mimicry thereof...

s and varnish
Varnish
Varnish is a transparent, hard, protective finish or film primarily used in wood finishing but also for other materials. Varnish is traditionally a combination of a drying oil, a resin, and a thinner or solvent. Varnish finishes are usually glossy but may be designed to produce satin or semi-gloss...

es. As a heavy-duty degreaser, it is useful in the preparation of metal prior to painting; it also thins polyester resins, vinyl
Vinyl
A vinyl compound is any organic compound that contains a vinyl group ,which are derivatives of ethene, CH2=CH2, with one hydrogen atom replaced with some other group...

 and adhesives. It is also useful for high reliability soldering
Soldering
Soldering is a process in which two or more metal items are joined together by melting and flowing a filler metal into the joint, the filler metal having a lower melting point than the workpiece...

 applications to remove solder rosin
Rosin
.Rosin, also called colophony or Greek pitch , is a solid form of resin obtained from pines and some other plants, mostly conifers, produced by heating fresh liquid resin to vaporize the volatile liquid terpene components. It is semi-transparent and varies in color from yellow to black...

 after soldering is complete. This helps to prevent the Rusty bolt effect
Rusty bolt effect
The rusty bolt effect is a description of radio interference due to interactions with dirty connections or corroded parts. It is more properly known as passive intermodulation, and can result from a variety of different causes such as ferromagnetic conduction metals, nonlinear microwave absorbers...

 from occurring due to dirty solder contacts.

Many millions of kilograms of acetone are consumed in the production of the solvents methyl isobutyl alcohol and methyl isobutyl ketone
Methyl isobutyl ketone
Methyl isobutyl ketone is the organic compound with the formula 2CHCH2CCH3. This colourless liquid, a ketone, is widely used as a solvent.-Production:...

. These products arise via an initial aldol condensation
Aldol condensation
An aldol condensation is an organic reaction in which an enol or an enolate ion reacts with a carbonyl compound to form a β-hydroxyaldehyde or β-hydroxyketone, followed by a dehydration to give a conjugated enone....

 to give diacetone alcohol
Diacetone alcohol
Diacetone alcohol is a chemical compound with the formula CH3CCH2C2. This liquid is a common synthetic intermediate used for the preparation of other compounds.It is a natural ingredient of Sleepy grass .-Synthesis:...

.
2 (CH3)2CO → (CH3)2C(OH)CH2C(O)CH3


Acetone is used as a solvent by the pharmaceutical industry and as a denaturation agent in denatured alcohol. Acetone is also present as an excipient
Excipient
An excipient is generally a pharmacologically inactive substance used as a carrier for the active ingredients of a medication. In many cases, an "active" substance may not be easily administered and absorbed by the human body; in such cases the substance in question may be dissolved into or...

 in some pharmaceutical products.

Storage of acetylene


Although flammable itself, acetone is also used extensively as a solvent for the safe transporting and storing of acetylene
Acetylene
Acetylene is the chemical compound with the formula C2H2. It is a hydrocarbon and the simplest alkyne. This colorless gas is widely used as a fuel and a chemical building block. It is unstable in pure form and thus is usually handled as a solution.As an alkyne, acetylene is unsaturated because...

, which cannot be safely pressurized as a pure compound. Vessels containing a porous material are first filled with acetone followed by acetylene, which dissolves into the acetone. One liter of acetone can dissolve around 250 liters of acetylene.

Methyl methacrylate


This application begins with the initial conversion of acetone to acetone cyanohydrin
Acetone cyanohydrin
Acetone cyanohydrin is an organic compound used in the production of methyl methacrylate, the monomer of the transparent plastic polymethyl methacrylate , also known as acrylic.-Preparation:...

:2CO + HCN → (CH3)2C(OH)CN
In a subsequent step, the nitrile is hydrolyzed
Hydrolysis
Hydrolysis is a chemical reaction during which molecules of water are split into hydrogen cations and hydroxide anions in the process of a chemical mechanism. It is the type of reaction that is used to break down certain polymers, especially those made by condensation polymerization...

 to the unsaturated amide
Amide
In chemistry, an amide is an organic compound that contains the functional group consisting of a carbonyl group linked to a nitrogen atom . The term refers both to a class of compounds and a functional group within those compounds. The term amide also refers to deprotonated form of ammonia or an...

, which is esterified:2C(OH)CN + CH3OH → CH2=(CH3)CCO2CH3 + NH3
The third major use of acetone (about 20%) entails its condensation with phenol to give bisphenol A
Bisphenol A
Bisphenol A is an organic compound with two phenol functional groups. It is used to make polycarbonate plastic and epoxy resins, along with other applications....

:2CO + 2 C6H5OH → (CH3)2C(C6H4OH)2 + H2O
Bisphenol A is a component of many polymers such as polycarbonate
Polycarbonate
PolycarbonatePhysical PropertiesDensity 1.20–1.22 g/cm3Abbe number 34.0Refractive index 1.584–1.586FlammabilityV0-V2Limiting oxygen index25–27%Water absorption – Equilibrium0.16–0.35%Water absorption – over 24 hours0.1%...

s, polyurethane
Polyurethane
A polyurethane is any polymer composed of a chain of organic units joined by carbamate links. Polyurethane polymers are formed through step-growth polymerization, by reacting a monomer with another monomer in the presence of a catalyst.Polyurethanes are...

s, and epoxy resins.

Medical and cosmetic uses


Acetone is used in a variety of general medical and cosmetic applications and is also listed as a component in food additives and food packaging.

Acetone is commonly used in chemical peel
Chemical peel
A chemical peel is a body treatment technique used to improve and smooth the texture of the facial skin using a chemical solution that causes the dead skin to slough off and eventually peel off. The regenerated skin is usually smoother and less wrinkled than the old skin. Thus the term chemical...

ing. Common agents used today for chemical peels are salicylic acid, lycolic acid, 30% salicylic acid
Salicylic acid
Salicylic acid is a monohydroxybenzoic acid, a type of phenolic acid and a beta hydroxy acid. This colorless crystalline organic acid is widely used in organic synthesis and functions as a plant hormone. It is derived from the metabolism of salicin...

 in ethanol
Ethanol
Ethanol, also called ethyl alcohol, pure alcohol, grain alcohol, or drinking alcohol, is a volatile, flammable, colorless liquid. It is a psychoactive drug and one of the oldest recreational drugs. Best known as the type of alcohol found in alcoholic beverages, it is also used in thermometers, as a...

, and trichloroacetic acid
Trichloroacetic acid
Trichloroacetic acid is an analogue of acetic acid in which the three hydrogen atoms of the methyl group have all been replaced by chlorine atoms....

 (TCA). Prior to chemexfoliation, the skin should be cleaned properly and excess fat removed. This process is known as defatting. Acetone, Septisol, or a combination of these agents is commonly used in this process.

Laboratory uses


In the laboratory, acetone is used as a polar
Chemical polarity
In chemistry, polarity refers to a separation of electric charge leading to a molecule or its chemical groups having an electric dipole or multipole moment. Polar molecules interact through dipole–dipole intermolecular forces and hydrogen bonds. Molecular polarity is dependent on the difference in...

 aprotic solvent in a variety of organic reaction
Organic reaction
Organic reactions are chemical reactions involving organic compounds. The basic organic chemistry reaction types are addition reactions, elimination reactions, substitution reactions, pericyclic reactions, rearrangement reactions, photochemical reactions and redox reactions. In organic synthesis,...

s, such as SN2 reactions
SN2 reaction
The SN2 reaction is a type of nucleophilic substitution, where a lone pair from a nucleophile attacks an electron deficient electrophilic center and bonds to it, expelling another group called a leaving group. Thus the incoming group replaces the leaving group in one step...

. The use of acetone solvent is also critical for the Jones oxidation
Jones oxidation
The Jones oxidation, is an organic reaction for the oxidation of primary and secondary alcohols to carboxylic acids and ketones, respectively. It is named after its discoverer, Sir Ewart Jones....

. It is a common solvent for rinsing laboratory glassware
Laboratory glassware
Laboratory glassware refers to a variety of equipment, traditionally made of glass, used for scientific experiments and other work in science, especially in chemistry and biology laboratories...

 because of its low cost and volatility. However, it does not form an azeotrope
Azeotrope
An azeotrope is a mixture of two or more liquids in such a ratio that its composition cannot be changed by simple distillation. This occurs because, when an azeotrope is boiled, the resulting vapor has the same ratio of constituents as the original mixture....

 with water (see azeotrope (data)
Azeotrope (data)
This page contains tables of azeotrope data for various binary and ternary mixtures of solvents. Data includes composition of mixture by weight , boiling point of components, boiling point of mixture, and specific gravity of mixture...

). Despite its common use as a supposed drying agent
Drying agent
The term drying agent has different meanings:* Desiccant for materials that absorb moisture and water* Oil drying agents for compounds that speed up the hardening of oils, often used in painting...

, it is not effective except by bulk displacement and dilution. Acetone can be cooled with dry ice
Dry ice
Dry ice, sometimes referred to as "Cardice" or as "card ice" , is the solid form of carbon dioxide. It is used primarily as a cooling agent. Its advantages include lower temperature than that of water ice and not leaving any residue...

 to −78 °C without freezing; acetone/dry ice baths are commonly used to conduct reactions at low temperatures. Acetone is fluorescent under ultraviolet light, and its vapor may be used as a fluorescent tracer in fluid flow experiments.

Domestic and other niche uses


Acetone is often the primary component in cleaning agents such as nail polish
Nail polish
Nail polish, or nail varnish, is a lacquer applied to human fingernails or toenails to decorate and/or protect the nail plate.-History:...

 remover. Ethyl acetate
Ethyl acetate
Ethyl acetate is the organic compound with the formula CH3COOCH2CH3. This colorless liquid has a characteristic sweet smell and is used in glues, nail polish removers, and cigarettes...

, another organic solvent, is sometimes used as well. Acetone is a component of superglue remover and it easily removes residues from glass and porcelain.

It can be used as an artistic agent; when rubbed on the back of a laser print or photocopy placed face-down on another surface and burnish
Burnish
Burnishing is a form of pottery treatment in which the surface of the pot is polished, using a hard smooth surface such as a wooden or bone spatula, smooth stones, plastic, or even glass bulbs, while it still is in a leathery 'green' state, i.e., before firing. After firing, the surface is...

ed firmly, the toner of the image transfers to the destination surface.

Make-up artists use acetone to remove skin adhesive from the netting of wigs and moustaches by immersing the item in an acetone bath, then removing the softened glue residue with a stiff brush.

Flammability


The most common hazard associated with acetone is its extreme flammability. It auto-ignites at a temperature of 465 °C (869 °F). At temperatures greater than acetone's flash point
Flash point
The flash point of a volatile material is the lowest temperature at which it can vaporize to form an ignitable mixture in air. Measuring a flash point requires an ignition source...

 of −20 °C (−4 °F), air mixtures of between 2.5% and 12.8% acetone, by volume, may explode or cause a flash fire. Vapors can flow along surfaces to distant ignition sources and flash back. Static
Static electricity
Static electricity refers to the build-up of electric charge on the surface of objects. The static charges remain on an object until they either bleed off to ground or are quickly neutralized by a discharge. Static electricity can be contrasted with current electricity, which can be delivered...

 discharge may also ignite acetone vapors.

Health information


Acetone has been studied extensively and is generally recognized to have low acute and chronic toxicity if ingested and/or inhaled. Inhalation of high concentrations (around 9200 ppm) in the air caused irritation of the throat in humans in as little as 5 minutes. Inhalation of concentrations of 1000 ppm caused irritation of the eyes and of the throat in less than 1 hour; however, the inhalation of 500 ppm of acetone in the air caused no symptoms of irritation in humans even after 2 hours of exposure. Acetone is not currently regarded as a carcinogen
Carcinogen
A carcinogen is any substance, radionuclide, or radiation that is an agent directly involved in causing cancer. This may be due to the ability to damage the genome or to the disruption of cellular metabolic processes...

, a mutagen
Mutagen
In genetics, a mutagen is a physical or chemical agent that changes the genetic material, usually DNA, of an organism and thus increases the frequency of mutations above the natural background level. As many mutations cause cancer, mutagens are therefore also likely to be carcinogens...

ic chemical or a concern for chronic neurotoxicity
Neurotoxicity
Neurotoxicity occurs when the exposure to natural or artificial toxic substances, which are called neurotoxins, alters the normal activity of the nervous system in such a way as to cause damage to nervous tissue. This can eventually disrupt or even kill neurons, key cells that transmit and process...

 effects.

Acetone can be found as an ingredient in a variety of consumer products ranging from cosmetics to processed and unprocessed foods. Acetone has been rated as a GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe) substance when present in beverages, baked foods, desserts, and preserves at concentrations ranging from 5 to 8 mg/L. Additionally, a joint U.S-European study found that acetone’s "health hazards are slight."

Toxicology


Acetone is believed to exhibit only slight toxicity in normal use, and there is no strong evidence of chronic health effects if basic precautions are followed.

At very high vapor concentrations, acetone is irritating and, like many other solvents, may depress the central nervous system
Central nervous system
The central nervous system is the part of the nervous system that integrates the information that it receives from, and coordinates the activity of, all parts of the bodies of bilaterian animals—that is, all multicellular animals except sponges and radially symmetric animals such as jellyfish...

. It is also a severe irritant on contact with eyes, and a potential pulmonary aspiration
Pulmonary aspiration
Pulmonary aspiration is the entry of material from the oropharynx or gastrointestinal tract into the larynx and lower respiratory tract...

 risk. In one documented case, ingestion of a substantial amount of acetone led to systemic toxicity, although the patient eventually fully recovered. Some sources estimate LD50 for human ingestion at 1.159 g/kg; LD50 inhalation by mice is given as 44 g/m3, over 4 hours.

Acetone has been shown to have anticonvulsant
Anticonvulsant
The anticonvulsants are a diverse group of pharmaceuticals used in the treatment of epileptic seizures. Anticonvulsants are also increasingly being used in the treatment of bipolar disorder, since many seem to act as mood stabilizers, and in the treatment of neuropathic pain. The goal of an...

 effects in animal models of epilepsy
Epilepsy
Epilepsy is a common chronic neurological disorder characterized by seizures. These seizures are transient signs and/or symptoms of abnormal, excessive or hypersynchronous neuronal activity in the brain.About 50 million people worldwide have epilepsy, and nearly two out of every three new cases...

, in the absence of toxicity, when administered in millimolar concentrations. It has been hypothesized that the high-fat low-carbohydrate ketogenic diet
Ketogenic diet
The ketogenic diet is a high-fat, adequate-protein, low-carbohydrate diet that in medicine is used primarily to treat difficult-to-control epilepsy in children. The diet mimics aspects of starvation by forcing the body to burn fats rather than carbohydrates...

 used clinically to control drug-resistant epilepsy in children works by elevating acetone in the brain.
  • EPA EPCRA Delisting (1995). EPA removed acetone from the list of “toxic chemicals” maintained under Section 313 of the Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act (EPCRA). In making that decision, EPA conducted an extensive review of the available toxicity data on acetone and found that acetone "exhibits acute toxicity only at levels that greatly exceed releases and resultant exposures", and further that acetone "exhibits low toxicity in chronic studies".

  • Genotoxicity. Acetone has been tested in more than two dozen in vitro and in vivo assays. These studies indicate that acetone is not genotoxic.

  • Carcinogenicity. EPA in 1995 concluded, "There is currently no evidence to suggest a concern for carcinogenicity". (EPCRA Review, described in Section 3.3). NTP scientists have recommended against chronic toxicity/carcinogenicity testing of acetone because "the prechronic studies only demonstrated a very mild toxic response at very high doses in rodents".

  • Neurotoxicity and Developmental Neurotoxicity. The neurotoxic potential of both acetone and isopropanol, the metabolic precursor of acetone, have been extensively studied. These studies demonstrate that although exposure to high doses of acetone may cause transient central nervous system effects, acetone is not a neurotoxicant. A guideline developmental neurotoxicity study has been conducted with isopropanol, and no developmental neurotoxic effects were identified, even at the highest dose tested. (SIAR, pp. 1, 25, 31).

  • Environmental. When the EPA exempted acetone from regulation as a volatile organic compound (VOC) in 1995, EPA stated that this exemption would "contribute to the achievement of several important environmental goals and would support EPA’s pollution prevention efforts". 60 Fed. Reg. 31,634 (June 16, 1995). 60 Fed. Reg. 31,634 (June 16, 1995). EPA noted that acetone could be used as a substitute for several compounds that are listed as hazardous air pollutants (HAP) under section 112 of the [Clean Air] Act.

Environmental effects


Acetone evaporates rapidly, even from water and soil. Once in the atmosphere, it is degraded by UV light with a 22-day half-life. Acetone dissipates slowly in soil, animals, or waterways since it is sometimes consumed by microorganisms, but it is a significant groundwater contaminant due to its high solubility
Solubility
Solubility is the property of a solid, liquid, or gaseous chemical substance called solute to dissolve in a solid, liquid, or gaseous solvent to form a homogeneous solution of the solute in the solvent. The solubility of a substance fundamentally depends on the used solvent as well as on...

 in water. The LD50 of acetone for fish is 8.3 g/l of water (or about 0.8%) over 96 hours, and its environmental half-life is about 1 to 10 days. Acetone may pose a significant risk of oxygen depletion in aquatic systems due to the microbial activity consuming it.

Acetone peroxide



When oxidized, acetone forms acetone peroxide
Peroxide
A peroxide is a compound containing an oxygen–oxygen single bond or the peroxide anion .The O−O group is called the peroxide group or peroxo group. In contrast to oxide ions, the oxygen atoms in the peroxide ion have an oxidation state of −1.The simplest stable peroxide is hydrogen peroxide...

 as a byproduct, which is a highly unstable compound. It may be formed accidentally, e.g. when waste hydrogen peroxide
Hydrogen peroxide
Hydrogen peroxide is the simplest peroxide and an oxidizer. Hydrogen peroxide is a clear liquid, slightly more viscous than water. In dilute solution, it appears colorless. With its oxidizing properties, hydrogen peroxide is often used as a bleach or cleaning agent...

 is poured into waste solvent containing acetone. Acetone peroxide is more than ten times as sensitive to friction and shock as nitroglycerin. Due to its instability, it is rarely used, despite its easy chemical synthesis.

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