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Skeletal formula
Space-filling model
Space-filling model
Preferred IUPAC name
Systematic IUPAC name
Other names
3D model (JSmol)
ECHA InfoCard 100.003.088
RTECS number ZE2625000
Molar mass 106.17 g·mol−1
Appearance Colorless liquid
Odor Aromatic[1]
Density 0.861 g/mL
Melting point 13.2 °C (55.8 °F; 286.3 K)
Boiling point 138.35 °C (281.03 °F; 411.50 K)
Solubility in ethanol Very soluble
Solubility in diethyl ether Very soluble
Vapor pressure 9 mmHg (20°C)[1]
-76.78·10−6 cm3/mol
Viscosity 0.7385 cP at 0 °C
0.6475 cP at 20 °C
0.00 D [2]
Main hazards Harmful or fatal if swallowed. Vapor harmful. Flammable liquid and vapor.
Safety data sheet See: data page
External MSDS
R-phrases (outdated) R10 R20 R21 R36 R38
S-phrases (outdated) S25
NFPA 704
Flammability code 3: Liquids and solids that can be ignited under almost all ambient temperature conditions. Flash point between 23 and 38 °C (73 and 100 °F). E.g., gasoline) Health code 2: Intense or continued but not chronic exposure could cause temporary incapacitation or possible residual injury. E.g., chloroform Reactivity code 0: Normally stable, even under fire exposure conditions, and is not reactive with water. E.g., liquid nitrogen Special hazards (white): no codeNFPA 704 four-colored diamond
Flash point 27 °C (81 °F; 300 K) [3]
528 °C (982 °F; 801 K)[3]
Explosive limits 1.1%-7.0%[1]
100 ppm[3] (TWA), 150 ppm[3] (STEL)
Lethal dose or concentration (LD, LC):
4550 ppm (rat, 4 hr)[4]
3401 ppm (mouse)[4]
US health exposure limits (NIOSH):
PEL (Permissible)
TWA 100 ppm (435 mg/m3)[1]
REL (Recommended)
TWA 100 ppm (435 mg/m3) ST 150 ppm (655 mg/m3)[1]
IDLH (Immediate danger)
900 ppm[1]
Related compounds
Supplementary data page
Refractive index (n),
Dielectric constantr), etc.
Phase behaviour
Except where otherwise noted, data are given for materials in their standard state (at 25 °C [77 °F], 100 kPa).
N verify (what is YesYN ?)
Infobox references

p-Xylene (para-xylene) is an aromatic hydrocarbon. It is one of the three isomers of dimethylbenzene known collectively as xylenes. The p- stands for para-, indicating that the two methyl groups in p-xylene occupy the diametrically opposite substituent positions 1 and 4, as illustrated here in the schematic representation. It is in the positions of the two methyl groups, their arene substitution pattern, that it differs from the other isomers, o-xylene and m-xylene. Each of the three isomers has two methyl substituents attached to the benzene ring; ignoring the substitution patterns they therefore all have the same chemical formula C6H4(CH3)2. Like all xylene isomers, p-xylene is dangerously flammable.

Nomenclature and structure[edit]

For historical reasons, various sources refer to p-xylene as any of: 1,4-dimethylbenzene, p-dimethylbenzene; p-xylol; 1,4-xylene; p-methyltoluene; paraxylene; chromar; scintillar; 4-methyltoluene; NSC 72419; or 1,4-dimethyl-benzene.[5] According to convenience, the chemical formula may be represented as C8H10 or C6H4(CH3)2.[6][7][8]

Physical properties[edit]

p-Xylene is a colorless, flammable liquid practically insoluble in water. The boiling point is 138.35 °C (281 °F) and the melting point 13.2 °C (56 °F). Its specific gravity is 0.86.
p-Xylene is highly flammable, with a flash point of 27°C.
The odor threshold of p-xylene is 0.62 parts per million (ppm).[6]


The production of p-xylene is industrially significant world-wide, with annual demand estimated at 37 million tons in 2014, and still on the increase.[9] p-Xylene is produced by catalytic reforming of petroleum naphtha as part of the BTX aromatics (benzene, toluene and the xylene isomers) extracted from the catalytic reformate. The p-xylene is then separated out in a series of distillation, adsorption or crystallization and reaction processes from the m-xylene, o-xylene and ethylbenzene. Its melting point is the highest among this series of isomers, but simple crystallization does not allow easy purification due to the formation of eutectic mixtures.

Such separation procedures are major cost factors in the production of p-xylene, and the search for alternative methods continues. For example, a reverse-osmosis technique has now been proposed to improve various aspects of the processes. [10]

Industrial applications[edit]

p-Xylene is an important chemical feedstock. Among other industrial applications, it is a raw material in the large scale synthesis of various polymers. In particular it is a component in the production of terephthalic acid for polyesters such as polyethylene terephthalate. It also may be polymerised directly to produce parylene.


p-Xylene occurs naturally in petroleum and coal tar. It is a formed in incomplete combustion, and emitted by most combustion sources, including automobile exhaust and tobacco smoke.[11][12]


Inhaling p-xylene can cause dizziness, headache, drowsiness, and nausea. If exposure through inhalation occurs, first aid includes fresh air, rest and possible medical attention. Through the use of ventilation or breathing protection, exposure to p-xylene through inhalation can be prevented.[7]


Exposure of p-xylene through the skin can cause dry skin and redness. If skin exposure occurs, first aid includes rinsing and then washing the affected area with soap and water as well as removing any contaminated clothing and thoroughly cleaning and drying before reuse. Exposure can be prevented through the use of protective gloves.[7]


Exposure of p-xylene to eyes can cause redness and pain. If eyes are exposed, first aid includes rinsing of the eyes with water for several minutes, removal of contact lenses if applicable, and medical attention. Eye exposure can be prevented through the use of safety glasses or safety goggles.[7]


Ingestion of p-xylene can result in a burning sensation, abdominal pain, dizziness, drowsiness, headache, and nausea. If p-xylene is ingested one's mouth should be rinsed and vomiting should not be induced. Further medical attention should be sought. Ingestion can be prevented by not eating, drinking, or smoking when working with p-xylene.[7]

Short-term exposure[edit]

p-Xylene can cause issues with the central nervous system and if swallowed could cause chemical pneumonitis when breathed into the lungs.[7]

Long-term exposure[edit]

Liquid p-xylene exposure to the skin over long periods of time can remove the fat from the skin. The substance may also have effects on the central nervous system . Exposure can enhance hearing loss caused by noise exposure. Animal tests suggest that this substance could cause damage to human development and reproductive systems.[7]


Overexposure of p-xylene in humans can cause headache, fatigue, dizziness, listlessness, confusion, irritability, gastrointestinal disturbances including nausea and loss of appetite, flushing of the face, and a feeling of increased body heat. p-Xylene vapor exposure over the recommended exposure limit of 100 parts per million (ppm) can cause irritation to eye, nose, and throat and possible chest tightening and an abnormal gait.[8]


  1. ^ a b c d e f "NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards #0670". National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). 
  2. ^ Perry's Handbook of Chemical Engineers
  3. ^ a b c d "p-Xylene". International Chemical Safety Cards. ICSC/NIOSH. July 1, 2014. 
  4. ^ a b "Xylenes". Immediately Dangerous to Life and Health. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). 
  5. ^ "p-xylene". NIST. Retrieved 21 February 2013. 
  6. ^ a b "p-Xylene MSDS". ScienceLab.com. 
  7. ^ a b c d e f g "para-Xylene". National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health. Retrieved 12 February 2013. 
  8. ^ a b "MATERIAL SAFETY DATA SHEET PARA-XYLENE". Amoco. Retrieved 13 February 2013. 
  9. ^ Nature 532,435–437 (28 April 2016) doi:10.1038/532435a
  10. ^ [1]
  11. ^ EPA-454/R-93-048 Locating and estimating air emissions from sources of xylene Emission Inventory Branch Technical Support Division Office of Air Quality Planning and Standards U.S. Environmental Protection Agency March 1994
  12. ^ Talhout, Reinskje; Schulz, Thomas; Florek, Ewa; Van Benthem, Jan; Wester, Piet; Opperhuizen, Antoon (2011). "Hazardous Compounds in Tobacco Smoke". International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 8 (12): 613–628. ISSN 1660-4601. PMC 3084482Freely accessible. PMID 21556207. doi:10.3390/ijerph8020613. 

External links[edit]