Ethylene Glycol Ethers Group - information sheet

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  • The Government of Canada conducted a science-based evaluation, called a screening assessment, of 7 substances in the Ethylene Glycol Ethers Group to address the potential for harm to Canadians and to the environment.
  • Under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (CEPA 1999), the risk posed by a substance is determined by considering both its hazardous properties (its potential to cause adverse human health or ecological effects) and the amount of exposure there is to people and the environment. A substance may have hazardous properties; however, the risk to human health or to the environment may be low depending upon the level of exposure.
  • The ecological hazard and exposure potentials of these 7 substances were classified using the Ecological Risk Classification of Organic Substances Approach.
  • Although health effects were identified for monoglyme, it was determined that exposure to this substance is low. The risk to human health and the environment from the other 6 substances is low. Therefore, it is concluded that none of these 7 substances are harmful to human health or the environment.

About these substances

  • This screening assessment focuses on 7 of 9 substances referred to collectively under the Chemicals Management Plan (CMP) as the Ethylene Glycol Ethers Group.
  • The substances addressed in this CMP screening assessment are monoglyme [also referred to as ethylene glycol dimethyl ether (EGDME)], diethylene glycol (DEG), triethylene glycol (TEG), tetraethylene glycol (TTEG), diethylene glycol monoethyl ether (DEGEE), ethylene glycol monobutyl ether acetate (EGBEA) and diethylene glycol monobutyl ether (DEGBE).
  • Two other substances in the Ethylene Glycol Ethers Group were determined to be of low concern to both human health and the environment, through other approaches. Conclusions for CAS RN 111-96-6 and 112-49-2 are provided in the Screening Assessment for Substances Identified as Being of Low Concern using the the Ecological Risk Classification of Organic Substances and the Threshold of Toxicological Concern (TTC)-based Approach for Certain Substances.
  • The Government gathers information on substances, including details on their commercial status in Canada, to support risk assessment and risk management of substances under the CMP.
  • These 7 substances are not expected to occur naturally in the environment.
  • In Canada, these substances are commercially produced and used in a variety of products available to consumers, including cosmetics and non-prescription drugs, paint and coating products, air fresheners, adhesives, batteries and textiles. These substances are mainly used as solvents and/or fragrance ingredients.

Exposure of Canadians and the environment

  • Exposure of Canadians to these 7 substances from air, water, soil or food is expected to be minimal.
  • Canadians may be exposed to these substances from the use of products available to consumers, such as cosmetics and non-prescription drugs, paint and coating products, air fresheners and household cleaning products.
  • All 7 substances were identified as having low ecological exposure potential.

Key health and ecological effects (hazard)

  • To identify effects of concern for human health, international reports and other scientific literature were reviewed. Available information indicates that these substances may have adverse effects on organs, such as the liver and kidney.
  • There were limited health effects (hazard) data for some of these substances; therefore, a comparative approach using similar chemicals, called read-across, was used for assessing potential health effects.
  • For monoglyme, potential developmental effects were identified as the important or "critical" effects for characterizing the risk to human health from exposures. Potential effects on testes, blood, thymus and adrenal glands were also identified.
  • All 7 substances were identified as having a low ecological hazard potential.

Risk assessment outcomes

  • Based upon a comparison of levels to which Canadians may be exposed to these substances and levels associated with health effects, the risk to human health from these 7 substances is considered to be low.
  • The Ecological Risk Classification of Organic Substances Approach characterized all 7 substances as posing low risk of harm to organisms and the environment.
  • The Government of Canada published the Final Screening Assessment for Ethylene Glycol Ethers Group on September 1, 2018.

Screening assessment conclusions

  • As a result of this assessment, the Government concluded that these 7 substances are not harmful to human health at current levels of exposure.
  • The Government also concluded that these 7 substances are not entering the environment at levels that are harmful to the environment.

Preventive actions and reducing risk

  • Although monoglyme is not considered to be harmful to human health or the environment at current levels of exposure, this substance is considered to have a health effect of concern based on its potential developmental effects. There may be a concern if exposures were to increase.
  • Therefore, the Government published a notice of intent to apply the Significant New Activity (SNAc) provisions of CEPA 1999 to monoglyme. This publication has a 60-day public comment period ending on October 31, 2018.
  • The SNAc would require that the Government be notified of any proposed new activities related to monoglyme. New activity would be subject to assessment prior to the new activity commencing.

Important to know

  • These 7 substances can be found in certain products available to consumers. Canadians should follow any safety warnings and directions on product labels and dispose of products responsibly.
  • Canadians who may be exposed to any of these substances in the workplace can consult with their employer and an occupational health and safety (OHS) representative about safe handling practices, applicable laws, and requirements under OHS legislation and the Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS).
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