Methyl ethyl ketone, also referred to as butanone, is a solvent used in the production of synthetic rubber, paraffin wax, glues, lacquers, varnishes and paint remover. A colorless liquid that has an acetone-like odor, it’s highly flammable and must be disposed of properly to protect people and the environment.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), methyl ethyl ketone can cause “irritation to the eyes, nose and throat” when inhaled for a short period. In animals, “chronic inhalation” resulted in “slight neurological, liver, kidney, and respiratory effects.” In mice and rats that inhaled and ingested the chemical, “decreased fetal weight and fetal malformations” were reported.
Save or recycle methyl ethyl ketone whenever possible. According to global chemical company Mallinckrodt Baker’s Material Safety Data Sheet, leftover methyl ethyl ketone should be stored in a sealable container and sent to a Resource Conservation and Recovery Act-approved incinerator, or disposed of at a RCRA-approved waste facility. In case of accidental spills, collect as much liquid as possible in sealable containers. Clean up any remaining liquid with sand, dry lime or soda ash, and place the material in a sealable container.
Dispose of methyl ethyl ketone in a well-ventilated area free of open flames. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends seeking medical attention if breathing difficulties or contact between methyl ethyl ketone and skin or eyes occurs. In case of contact, flush the exposed area with water for at least 15 minutes. Dispose of any contaminated clothing with caution. Always check local and state disposal regulations before disposing of any hazardous material.