Toxno Substance Profile
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Substance Name

2,6-Di-tert-butyl-4-methylphenol
Identification Number: CASRN | 128-37-0

  Substance Attributes


  • Carcinogenic Properties

    Accumulating evidence points to cancer potential. Exercise caution with this substance, explore your exposure routes and consider complete avoidance. See further details under Toxins.

  • Metabolic Interference or Disruption

    Interferes with human metabolism. This can be a very serious thing. Some of these interference mechanics are well established. However, often long term effects and health consequences remain largely unknown. Additionally an emerging area of concern and one that is not currently studied, is the combined synergistic effects these metabolically disrupting chemicals have on human health.


    Metabolic interference happens when the substance produces highly reactive and often damaging intermediates during detoxification or when the substance binds to specific enzymes, important structural groups on molecules, receptors and membranes or targets DNA or mimics key nutrients.

These attributes are ONLY based on peer-reviewed evidence. See link to Data Sources below. Everyone benefits from knowing this stuff. Please Share.



  • CATEGORIES: Food Additives with E Numbers | Antioxidants | Food Toxin | Synthetic Toxin | EAFUS (Everything Added to Food in the United States) | Inert Pesticide Ingredient USA - Non Food Use Only | Inert Pesticide Ingredient USA - FRAGRANCE ( Generally Not used on Food)
  • SUBSTANCE LINEAGE: Organic Compounds | Benzenoids | Benzene and Substituted Derivatives | Phenylpropanes | Phenylpropanes
  • SYNONYMS: 2,6-Bis(1,1-dimethylethyl)-4-methylphenol | 9CI | 2,6-Di-t-butyl-4-methylphenol | 2,6-Di-tert-butyl-p-cresol | 8CI | BHT | Butyl hydroxy toluene | Butylated hydroxytoluene | Butylhydroxytoluene | E321 | FEMA 2184 | Ionol | Popol
  • DESCRIPTION: E Number: E321 | Food Additives with E Numbers used in Australia, NZ, UK and the EU. Over 400 in total. | Substance has been approved in: Australia and NZ | EU and UK | | Can cause adverse reactions - best to avoid (Food Intolerance Network) | Antioxidants | 2,6-Di-tert-butyl-4-methylphenol is also known as butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) or butylhydroxytoluene, is a lipophilic (fat-soluble) organic compound that is primarily used as an antioxidant food additive (E number E321) as well as an antioxidant additive in cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, jet fuels, rubber, petroleum products, electrical transformer oil, and embalming fluid. It is also found in certain plants, including soft-necked garlic. A recent study has found that phytoplankton, including the green algae, Botryococcus braunii, as well as three different cyanobacteria (Cylindrospermopsis raciborskii, Microcystis aeruginosa and Oscillatoria sp.) are capable of producing this compound.
  • COMMENTS:
  • toxin chemical structure pubchem
  • FORMULA: C15H24O
  • DATA SOURCES: DATA SOURCES: ARTICLE 4 | CPDB | T3DB | PubChem | IARC | FSANZ and FSA | EAFUS | EPA USA - Pesticide Inerts
  • LAST UPDATE: 28/04/2018

  Health Associations

Mostly focused on Health Implications of Long Term Exposure to this substance

  • SYMPTOMS:
  • POSSIBLE HEALTH CONSEQUENCES: BHT is of low acute toxicity. Acute exposure to BHT can cause coughs and sore throat (inhalation), redness on the skin (via contact) and abdominal pain, confusion, dizziness and nausea (via ingestion). Long-term exposure to high doses of BHT is toxic in mice and rats, causing liver, thyroid and kidney problems and affecting lung function and blood coagulation. BHT can act as a tumour promoter in certain situations (A15353) although it is not a genotoxic carcinogen. Limited evidence suggests that high doses of BHT may mimic estrogen (A15354), the primary female sex hormone, and prevent expression of male sex hormones, resulting in adverse reproductive affects. On chronic oral exposure of rats, liver and thyroid are the main targets. Doses above 25 mg/kg bw/day BHT resulted in thyroid hyperactivity and enlargement of the liver. | Oxidative metabolism (phase 1 reactions) mediated by the microsomal monooxygenase system is the major route for BHT degradation. Oxidation of the tert-butyl groups is most common in man. Gallates and 2-tert-butylhydroquinone are mainly metabolized by non-oxidative pathways (methylation or conjugation with sulphate and glucuronic acid). (A15352). In particular BHT is frequently metabolized to quinone methides (QMs) which are thought to be responsible for promoting tumor formation. One example of a QM is 2,6-di-tert-butyl-4-methylenecyclohexa-2,5-dienone (BHT-QM). QMs are strongly electrophilic and readily form adducts with proteins.
  • ACTION OF TOXIN: BHT is metabolized to quinone methides (QMs) which are responsible for promoting tumor formation in many animal models. One example of a QM is 2,6-di-tert-butyl-4-methylenecyclohexa-2,5-dienone (BHT-QM). QMs are strongly electrophilic and readily form adducts with proteins. Some of the QM targets include redox proteins such as glutathione S-transferase P1 (GST-P1), peroxiredoxin 6 (Prx6), Cu,Zn-superoxide dismutase (SOD1), carbonyl reductase, and selenium-binding protein 1, which have direct or indirect antioxidant functions. (A15087, A15355). The modification of these proteins leads to decreased cellular protection from electrophiles and oxidants. Alkylation also may interfere with GSTP1 regulation of stress kinases, thereby influencing phosphorylation and cell growth. BHT also binds to the retinoic acid receptor which can lead to changes in cell development. |
  • TOXIN SITES OF ACTION IN CELL: "Membrane"
  • Additional Exposure Routes: BHT is primarily used as an antioxidant food additive (E number E321) as well as an antioxidant additive in cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, jet fuels, rubber, petroleum products, electrical transformer oil, and embalming fluid.

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