Residual Solvent Screening

Chemical solvents (like butane, isopropyl alcohol, propane, or ethanol) are often used during the manufacturing process to improve yield, to affect the chemical properties of an ingredient or product, or to concentrate a material. Many of these solvents are detrimental to humans if consumed or inhaled, so it is imperative to make sure there are no residual solvents—even trace amounts—left behind after manufacturing. Heat, desiccation, vacuum, and other methods are required to remove solvents from a finished product, but the absence of residual solvents must be confirmed through testing. 

Why are Residual Solvents Dangerous?

Repeat exposure, often any exposure, to residual solvents can have carcinogenic and toxic effects to the body such as a loss of consciousness, headache, illness, or worse. 

We Tests for the Following 22 Residual Solvents:

1,2-Dichloroethane – Is a manufactured, colorless liquid chemical and does not exist in nature. 1,2-Dichloroethane is used in vinyl production and as a solvent to remove lead from leaded gasoline. Inhaling or ingesting large amounts of it will cause nervous system disorders, liver and kidney diseases, and lung effects.


A colorless liquid chemical compound used to make plastic, fibers, drugs, and other chemicals. It is also used as a solvent and is flammable. Acetone does exist in nature but is more common as a byproduct of industrial processes. If medium to high levels of acetone is inhaled, nose, throat, lung, and eye irritation will follow. Ingesting high amounts will cause unconsciousness. Acetone can also irritate the skin.

A colorless and flammable liquid chemical used as solvent and in the production of synthetic drugs. It is also known as methyl cyanide, cyanomethane, and ethanenitrile. Small amounts of acetonitrile are found in coal tar and volcanic gasses. If inhaled or ingested, it can damage the respiratory, cardiovascular, central nervous, and renal systems. Acetonitrile is toxic to the skin upon immediate contact.

A highly flammable, colorless liquid chemical with a sweet smell. It is used to formed other chemicals in industrial production and is a component in pesticides. Breathing in benzene can cause drowsiness, dizziness, rapid heart rate, headaches, tremors, confusion, unconsciousness, and even death. Ingesting it will cause vomiting, irritation of the stomach, convulsions, and death as well. Benzene is considered as a carcinogen.

A colorless, flammable gas and smells like petroleum. It is used in fuel and helps develop other chemicals. Butane is often available as liquified gas, this can cause frostbite if exposed to it. If inhaled, it can cause asphyxiation.

A colorless liquid chemical and is used to breakdown and make other chemicals. Chloroform is also known as trichloromethane and methyl trichloride. It was used as an anesthetic before risks were assessed. If breathed in or ingested, it can damage the liver and kidneys. Sores can occur if exposed to the skin.

Also known as grain alcohol, is a clear flammable chemical liquid emitted from plants, fires, volcanoes, animal wastes, insects, and natural fermentation of sugars. It is used as a disinfectant and as a primary ingredient in alcoholic beverages. Ethanol is also a solvent utilized in many industries. It is a depressant on the nervous system and high levels of ethanol consumption may lead to liver failure and death.

A flammable and clear liquid chemical. It is found naturally in cereal crops, radishes, fruit juices, and alcoholic beverages. It is used as a solvent for extracting hops and decaffeinating coffee and tea. Ethyl acetate is an ingredient in pesticide formulations as well. Breathing it in will cause weakness, drowsiness, and unconsciousness. It also irritates the eyes, nose, in throat.

Also known as diethyl ether, is a clear, flammable, and volatile chemical liquid. It is a solvent used to make other chemicals and was used as an anesthetic agent. It functions similarly to alcohol and chloroform and stimulates the heart. Inhalation may cause headache, nausea, vomiting, and loss of consciousness. Ethyl ether causes severe irritation to the eyes, nose, and throat. If taken orally, convulsions will occur.

A synthetic chemical, flammable gas with a subtle sweet smell. Small amounts are used as insecticides but is primary used to make antifreeze and polyester. Inhaling ethylene oxide can result in irritation of the eyes, skin, respiratory tracts, and affect the nervous system.

A volatile and flammable colorless liquid with petroleum odor. It naturally occurs in Jeffery pine (pinecones). Heptane can be used as a solvent and a plant metabolite. Breathing in heptane vapor is toxic and results in irritation, incoordination, weakness, and nausea. Ingesting it is an aspiration hazard. Skin exposed to heptane will be swollen and red.

A flammable and explosive colorless liquid that is derived from crude oil. Hexane is used as a solvent to extract vegetable oil; it is also used as a cleaning agent. Inhaling is can cause narcosis and ingesting it will result in chemical pneumonitis.

A flammable, clear chemical liquid with antibacterial and disinfectant properties. Isopropyl alcohol is used in many industries as a solvent to produce other chemicals. Inhaling will irritate the throat and cause chronic cough. Ingesting may cause abdominal pain and nausea. Skin dryness is a result of physical exposure.

A clear, volatile liquid and can mix easily with water. It is primarily used as a solvent by removing water from fuels and paints. Methanol vapor targets the eyes and cause conjunctivitis, chemosis, iritis, and corneal opacity. It also affects the gastrointestinal system and causes kidney failure if ingested.

A synthetic, colorless liquid chemical, it is also called dichloromethane. Methylene chloride is an industrial solvent and is used as a paint stripper. It is found in some pesticide products. Inhaling it will cause unsteadiness, dizziness, nausea, and numbness of finger and toes. It can burn the skin too.

A colorless liquid chemical with petroleum odor, it is similar to butane and hexane. Pentane is found in alcoholic beverages and hop oils. Pentane is used as a solvent in several industrial applications. Nausea and unconsciousness will follow if it is inhaled. Ingestion will cause chemical pneumonitis.

A volatile, colorless liquid chemical and is a byproduct of oil refining. Petroleum ether is a solvent used to make other chemicals and is a glue remover. If inhaled, breathing difficulties will ensue. It is an aspiration hazard and can cause chemical pneumonitis if ingested.

A flammable, colorless gas with petroleum odor and is like butane, as it is in the form of a liquified gas. Propane is used in several industrial applications. It can cause dizziness if inhaled and frostbite if physically exposed to propane.

A colorless liquid chemical that naturally occurs in crude oil and the tolu tree. It is used in industrial and cosmetic pain products and as a solvent in gasoline and cocaine production. Breathing in low to medium levels can result in confusion, weakness, memory loss, nausea, and loss of appetite. Long term exposure may cause loss of hearing and vision.

A highly flammable and clear liquid chemical with a sweet odor. It is naturally found in petroleum and coal tar. Xylenes are utilized in industrial printing, rubber, and leather production. Any type of exposure will affect the nervous system, and high levels will damage the renal and hepatic systems.

Also known as TCE, is a synthetic, clear, sweet smelling liquid chemical and is not flammable. It is used as a solvent to dissolve through grease on metals. Trichloroethylene is toxic to the central nervous immune, and reproductive system, and can cause damage to the kidneys and liver. It is a carcinogen.


Headspace-GC/MS (headspace gas chromatography mass spectrometry) is used to analyze any trace levels of solvents in various sample matrices. 

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