From The Agency of Toxic Substances and Disease Registry
Toluene is a clear, colorless liquid with a distinctive smell. It is a good solvent (a substance that can dissolve other substances). Toluene occurs naturally in crude oil and in the tolu tree. It is produced in the process of making gasoline and other fuels from crude oil and in making coke from coal.
Toluene is used in making paints, paint thinners, fingernail polish, lacquers, adhesives, and rubber and in some printing and leather tanning processes. It is used in the production of benzene, nylon, plastics, and polyurethane and the synthesis of trinitrotoluene (TNT), benzoic acid, benzoyl chloride, and toluene diisocyanate. It is also added to gasoline along with benzene and xylene to improve octane ratings.