Phenol is highly corrosive to body tissue, "burning"
the skin on contact, though as it also a local anaesthetic, its
effect may not be immediately felt. Damage to lung tissue can
occur if the vapour is inhaled.
It is moderately toxic and can be absorbed into the body by ingestion,
inhalation and contact. It is an irritant at low levels and may
cause liver damage at higher doses. It affects the central nervous
system, and so symptoms of exposure can include muscle weakness
and tremors, loss of coordination, paralysis, convulsions, coma,
and respiratory arrest. It may also be a carcinogen but this is
not proven and phenol remains un-classified.