Health effects of glycol ethers reviewed

Eight years of research on widely marketed solvents assessed at industry-sponsored conference

Health effects of the widely used solvent family glycol ethers were put in the spotlight last week at a conference in Paris organised by European and American chemical industry associations. Many findings presented at the event are being fed into risk assessment procedures for different glycol ethers being carried out by the EU or through the OECD.

Glycol ethers are a family of some 30 solvents, 400,000 tonnes of which were sold in Europe in 2000. All have low environmental toxicity and are readily biodegradable, but some have aroused health concerns; five have been classified by the EU as category 2 reprotoxic and banned from public use.

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