The primary use of methyl methacrylate is the production of acrylic plastics and resins (trade names are Lucite, Plexiglas and Perspex) for sheeting and molding compounds. These are used in construction, automotive, consumer products and in making signs. It (methyl methacrylate-butadiene-styrene, MBS) is used as an impact modifier in PVC for bottles. It is also used in exterior latex housepaint, and impregnating pulp paper and wood.
Substance name: Methyl methacrylate
CASR number: 80-62-6
Molecular formula: C5H8O2
Synonyms: Methacrylic Acid; Methyl 2-Methyl-2-Propenate;MME; MMA; 2-methylacrylic acid methyl ester; methyl methylacrylate; methyl alpha-methylacrylate; methyl 2-methylpropenoate
Methyl methacrylate is a colourless liquid with an acrid fruity odour.
Melting Point: -48°C
Boiling Point: 100°C
Vapour Density: 3.45
Specific Gravity: 0.943
Methyl methacrylate is a flammable liquid. It is slightly soluble in water and is soluble in some organic solvents.
The National Pollutant Inventory (NPI) holds data for all sources of methyl methacrylate ketone emissions in Australia.
Acute (short-term) exposure to methyl methacrylate may cause irritation of the eyes, nose and throat, hypotension, dizziness, nausea and vomiting. Other symptoms may include headache, pain in the extremities, excessive fatigue, sleep disorders, memory loss, and allergic response on contact.
Entering the body
Methyl methacrylate will enter the body if we breathe in contaminated air, or consume food or water that contains methyl methacrylate. It can also pass through the skin. Human exposure occurs mainly by breathing air containing methyl methacrylate.
Consumers can be exposed to methyl methacrylate by exposure to air from production and processing facilities using methyl methacrylate. Consumers may also be exposed to methyl methacrylate using consumer products containing methyl methacrylate (paints, floor polish and adhesives) especially if there is not good ventilation.
Workplace exposure standards
Safe Work Australia sets the workplace exposure standard for methyl methacrylate through the workplace exposure standards for airborne contaminants:
- Maximum eight hour time weighted average (TWA): 50 parts per million (208 mg/m3)
- Maximum short term exposure limit (STEL): 100 parts per million (416 mg/m3)
These standards are only appropriate for use in workplaces and are not limited to any specific industry or operation. Make sure you understand how to interpret the standards before you use them.
Drinking water guidelines
There is no guideline for methyl methacrylate in the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines.
Methyl methacrylate has low acute (short-term) and chronic (long-term) toxicity to aquatic life. Methyl methacrylate can contribute to the formation of photochemical smog when it reacts with other volatile substances in the air.
Entering the environment
Industrial emissions of methyl methacrylate can produce elevated, concentrations in the atmosphere around the source. Because of its short life expectancy in the atmosphere methyl methacrylate is expected to be confined to the local area within which it is emitted. Methyl methacrylate that makes its way into the ground, and does not evaporate, may move through the ground and enter groundwater (bore water), it is degraded in the water with in days.
Where it ends up
Methyl methacrylate quickly evaporates to a gas if released as a liquid. It dissolves when mixed with water. Most releases of methyl methacrylate are to the air. It can also evaporate from the soil or water when they are exposed to air. In the air it breaks down into other chemicals (pyruvic acid, methyl pyruvate, epoxides, and formaldehyde ), with in a couple of days. Microorganisms will break it down in the soil and the water, this may take hours or days. Since it does not bind well to soil if it is released to the ground it may make its way into the groundwater (bore water).
No national guidelines.
The primary sources of methyl methacrylate are the industries that manufacture it or use it in production. Some of the industries that manufacture it or use it in production are the chemical and plastics industry and the paints and coatings industry. These emissions mainly are to the air, but are also to the soil and water.
Diffuse sources, and industry sources included in diffuse emissions data
Other possible emitters of methyl methacrylate are vapours and spilling of commercial and household painting. These emissions are to the air unless there is a spill.
There are no known sources of natural methyl methacrylate.
No mobile sources.
Methyl methacrylate is found in synthetic resin and rubber adhesives, some pharmaceutical preparations, floor polish and some exterior latex paints.
Sources used in preparing this information
- CalEPA Air Resources Board Toxic Air Contaminant Summary Methyl methacrylate (accessed, May, 1999)
- ChemFinder WebServer Project (1995), Methyl methacrylate (accessed, May, 1999)
- Environmental Defense Fund (1998), Methyl methacrylate: The Chemical Scorecard: (accessed, May, 1999)
- National Environment Protection Council (1998a), National Environment Protection Measure for the National Pollutant Inventory (accessed, May, 1999)
- New Jersey Department of Health, Right to Know Program (1986), TRIFacts Methyl methacrylate (accessed, May, 1999)
- NTP Chemical Repository, Radian Corporation, Methyl methacrylate (AUGUST 29, 1991 (accessed, May, 1999)
- Technical Advisory Panel (1999), Final Report to the National Environment Protection Council.
- US Environmental Protection Agency and the Office of Air Quality Planning and Standards (May, 1998), (Methyl methacrylate) Fact sheet: Support Document (accessed, May, 1999)
- US Environmental Protection Agency and the Office of Air Quality Planning and Standards (May, 1998), Unified Air Toxics Website, Methyl methacrylate (accessed, May, 1999)
- Worksafe Australia (1996), Hazardous Substance Methyl methacrylate (accessed, May, 1999)
- Safe Work Australia, Workplace exposure standards for airborne contaminants, accessed January 2019.
- National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), Australian Drinking Water Guidelines (2011) - Updated October 2017, accessed May 2018