Isopropanol (IPA), also known as isopropyl alcohol, is a low-cost solvent used in many industrial and consumer products and as an extractant. Outlets include cosmetics and personal care products, de-icers, paints and resins, pharmaceuticals, food, inks and adhesives. It is also used as solvent for oil and gums and in the manufacture of fishmeal concentrates. Low-grade IPA is used in motor oils.
Some chemical compounds are manufactured from IPA, in particular derivative ketones (such as methyl isobutyl ketone), isopropylamines and isopropyl esters. Its use as a raw material in acetone production is declining.
Isopropanol vapour is a mild irritant to the eyes, nose and throat. It may cause effects on the central nervous system, resulting in depression while repeated or prolonged contact with skin may cause dermatitis. Prolonged exposure can lead to nausea, headaches and mild narcosis. It can be absorbed through the skin leading to irritation and dermatitis. Contact lenses must not be worn as they tend to concentrate the vapour.
Isopropanol is a dangerous fire and moderate explosion hazard. It enters the environment as emissions from its manufacture and use as a solvent. It naturally occurs as a plant volatile and is released during the microbial degradation of animal wastes.
To find out more Isopropanol Methodology September 2012