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Ethylene Glycol and Propylene Glycol Toxicity
What Are the U.S. Standards for Ethylene Glycol Exposure Levels?

Course: WB 1103
CE Original Date: October 3, 2007
CE Renewal Date: October 3, 2010
CE Expiration Date: October 3, 2012
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Learning Objectives

After completing this section, you will be able to

  • identify the ACGIH ceiling exposure limit for ethylene glycol, and
  • identify the EPA guidelines for ethylene glycol in drinking water.

Introduction

The government has developed regulations and guidelines for ethylene glycol. These are designed to protect the public from potential adverse health effects.

Workplace

  • The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has not set a permissible exposure limit (PEL) for ethylene glycol 2 , OSHA did enact a ceiling limit of 125 mg/m3 (50 ppm) in 1989, but that level, along with 375 others, was vacated for procedural reasons by the 11th Circuit Federal Court in 1993. ACGIH (American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists. 2003) recommends a ceiling exposure limit of 100 mg/m3 (39.4 ppm).

Environment

Water

EPA recommends that children be exposed to no more than 20 mg/L (20 ppm) ethylene glycol in drinking water for 1 day, or 6 mg/L (6 ppm) per day over 10 days. They also recommend that adults be exposed to no more than a daily total of 7 mg/L (7 ppm) for a lifetime (FSTRAC 1990).

Food

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved ethylene glycol as an indirect food additive, for use only as a component of adhesives used in packaging.

Key Points

  • ACGIH recommends a ceiling exposure limit of 100 mg/m3 (39.4 ppm).
  • EPA recommends that children be exposed to no more than 20 mg/L (20 ppm) ethylene glycol in drinking water for 1 day, or 6 mg/L (6 ppm) per day over 10 days. They also recommend that adults be exposed to no more than a daily total of 7 mg/L (7 ppm) for a lifetime.

   

Progress Check

4. ACGIH recommends a ceiling exposure limit for ethylene glycol of

A. 50 mg/m3
B. 100 mg/m3
C. 200 mg/m3
D. None of the above.

Answer:

To review relevant content, see Key Points in this section.

5. EPA recommends that, for a life-time ethylene glycol exposure of an adult, the limit should be no more than a daily total of

A. 20 mg/L (20 ppm)
B. 6 mg/L (6 ppm)
C. 7 mg/L (7 ppm)
D. None of the above.

Answer:

To review relevant content, see Environment in this section.

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