chemical information


Chemical Class:

Semivolatile organic compounds

Chemical SubClass


Found in these people:

Bill Moyers, Lucy Waletsky, Charlotte Brody

Found in these locations:

NJ, USA; Pleasantville, NY; Round Hill, VA


Laboratory animals. In laboratory animals, m-xylene causes decreased body weight and respiratory rate along with neurological toxicity. Neurological effects include impaired balance and reaction times, impaired performance on behavior test (rotorod performance), altered visual evoked potentials, altered neurotransmitters (catecholamines and decreased alpha-adrenergic binding). Developmental and reproductive effects include decreased fetal body weight and implantation (ATSDR 1995c).

Xylene mixtures (m-. o-. p-) cause neurological effects including hearing loss, weakness, tremors, partial paralysis, seizures, dizziness, impaired reaction time and short-term memory, decreased axonal transport, altered neurotransmitter levels (increased catecholamines, glutamine and dopamine and decreased acetylcholine), incoordination, aggressiveness, decreased performance on various behavioral tests. Other effects include increased wall thickness in coronary microvessels, leukocytosis and increased spleen weight. Reproductive and developmental effects include decreased fertility, increased resorptions, decrease bone ossification, cleft palate and decreased body weight (ATSDR 1995c).

Humans. In humans, exposure to xylene mixtures cause eye, nose and throat irritation; nausea, vomiting, gastric discomfort and decreased appetite; muscle weakness; dizziness, anxiety, forgetfulness and difficulty in concentration have been reported in humans following xylene exposure. Possible associations with leukemia have also been reported. High dose exposure to xylene in paint has been reported to cause death, although the paint mixture contained other chemicals (ATSDR 1995c).


People are exposed to chemicals from air or from contaminated tap water. In humans cause respiratory irritation, cancer, kidney and liver damage, and birth defects.

meta-Xylene has been found in 3 of the 9 people tested in EWG/Commonweal studies.

Results for meta-Xylene

Showing results from EWG/Commonweal Study #1, industrial chemicals and pesticides in adults

EWG/Commonweal results

  • found in 3 of 9 people in the group

found in 3 of 9 people, but not quantified