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General Description

Synonyms: Butyl cellosolve; Ethylene glycol mono-n-butyl ether; Ethylene glycol monobutyl ether; EGBE; Dowanol EB; Butyl oxitol; Jeffersol EB; Ektasolve EB

OSHA IMIS code: 0435

CAS number: 111-76-2

Monitoring Methods used by OSHA

Primary Laboratory Sampling/Analytical Method:
  • charcoal tube (100/50 mg sections, 20/40 mesh)
  • maximum volume: 48 L
  • maximum flow rate: 0.1 L/min
  • current analytical method: gas chromatography; GC/FID
  • analytical solvent: (95:5) methylene chloride:methanol
  • method reference: OSHA 83 (fully validated)
Wipe Sampling Method:
  • Wipe with charcoal pad, seal in glass vial for shipment.

Exposure Limits and Health Effects (Updated September 6, 2012)

Standard Set By Exposure Limit Health Effect Codes -- Health Effects and Target Organs
OSHA PEL - General Industry
See 29 CFR 1910.1000 Table Z-1
50 ppm (240 mg/m3) TWA
HE16 -- mild irritation
OSHA PEL - Construction Industry
See 29 CFR 1926.55 Appendix A
50 ppm (240 mg/m3) TWA
HE16 -- mild irritation
OSHA PEL - Shipyard Employment
See 29 CFR 1915.1000 Table Z-Shipyards
50 ppm (240 mg/m3) TWA
HE16 -- mild irritation
NIOSH REL 5 ppm (24 mg/m3) TWA
HE7 -- central nervous system effects - headache and nausea
HE12 -- hematotoxicity (effects on the blood and hematopoietic system)
HE16 -- irritation of the eyes and nose
ACGIH TLV® (1996) 20 ppm (97 mg/m3) TWA
HE7 -- central nervous system effects - nausea and headache
HE16 -- irritation of the eyes and nose
CAL/OSHA PELs 20 ppm (97 mg/m3) TWA
HE16 -- irritation of the eyes and nose

Carcinogenic classification:

EPA Inhalation Reference Concentration (RfC): 1.6 mg/m3

ATSDR Inhalation Minimal Risk Levels (MRLs): 6 ppm (acute); 3 ppm (intermediate); 0.2 ppm (chronic)

NIOSH IDLH concentration: 700 ppm

Notes on other potential health effects and hazards:

  1. 2-Butoxyethanol can form explosive peroxides when exposed to air (NIOSH/IPCS 2003).
  2. Absorption of liquid through skin is markedly enhanced by the addition of water to 2-butoxyethanol (Jakasa et al. 2004). Vapors also show significant dermal absorption (Jones et al. 2003).
  3. Measurements of 2-butoxyethanol in blood or butoxyacetic acid in urine after hydrolysis of conjugates are useful for monitoring exposure, although urinary monitoring is preferred. The average half-life for urinary excretion of total (free and conjugated) butoxyacetic acid metabolites is reportedly in the range of 3.3 to 6 hours (Jones and Cocker 2003).
  4. Exposures to EGBE in decal transfer workers in the bicycle manufacturing industry were found to accumulate with more days of exposure. Authors recommend that urine samples be collected at the end of the work week (Hung et al. 2011). Another study concluded that workers' low level exposures to EGBE in a beverage package production plant could be assessed with a single determination of butoxyacetic acid in post-shift urine samples (Haufroid et al. 1997).
  5. One study reported delayed effects in a small number of workers after acute exposure, including elevations in erythrocyte (red cell) sedimentation rate and blood pressure and the appearance of cherry angiomas on the skin (Raymond et al. 1998).
  6. NTP (2000) found some evidence of carcinogenicity in mice of both genders and equivocal evidence of carcinogenicity in female rats.
  7. The EPA RfC is based on deposition of iron storage materials in the livers of mice and rats exposed by inhalation for two years.
  8. The ATSDR MRL's are based on changes in clinical measures of circulating blood in laboratory studies in animals.
  9. Adverse effects on development have been observed in laboratory studies.

Partial reference list:

  • ACGIH: Documentation of the Threshold Limit Values (TLVs) and Biological Exposure Indices (BEIs) -2-Butoxyethanol. 2016.
  • ATSDR: Toxicological Profile for 2-Butoxyethanol and 2-Butoxyethanol Acetate. 1998.
  • California Occupational Safety & Health Standards Board: Initial and Final Statement of Reasons. July 6, 2006.
  • EPA: Integrated Risk Information System - Ethylene glycol monobutyl ether (EGBE)(2-Butoxyethanol) (CASRN 111-76-2). 2010.
  • Haufroid, V., Thirion, F., Mertens, P., Buchet, J.-P. and Lison, D.: Biological monitoring of workers exposed to low levels of 2-butoxyethanol. Int. Arch. Occup. Environ. Health 70(4): 232-236, 1997.
  • Hung PC, Cheng SF, Liou SH, Tsai SW: Biological monitoring of low-level 2-butoxyethanol exposure in decal transfer workers in bicycle manufacturing factories. Occup Environ Med. 68(10):777-82, October 2011.
  • Jakasa, I., Mohammadi, N., Kruse, J. and Kezic, S.: Percutaneous absorption of neat and aqueous solutions of 2-butoxyethanol in volunteers. Int. Arch. Occup. Environ. Health 77(2): 79-84, 2004.
  • Jones, K., Cocker, J., Dodd, L.J. and Fraser, I.: Factors affecting the extent of dermal absorption of solvent vapors - a human volunteer study to investigate biological monitoring methods for 2-butoxyethanol. Ann. Occup. Hyg. 47(2): 145-150, 2003.
  • Jones, K. and Cocker, J.: A human exposure study to investigate biological monitoring methods for 2-butoxyethanol. Biomarkers 8(5): 360-370, 2003.
  • NIOSH: Criteria for a Recommended StandardOccupational Exposure to Ethylene Glycol Monobutyl Ether and Ethylene Glycol Monobutyl Ether Acetate. September 1990.
  • NIOSH/CEC/IPCS: International Chemical Safety CardsEthylene glycol monobutyl ether. August 5, 2003.
  • NTP: Toxicology and Carcinogenesis Studies 2-Butoxyethanol (CAS NO. 111-76-2) in F344/N Rats and B6C3F1 Mice (Inhalation Studies). TR 484, 2000.
  • Raymond, L.W., Williford, L.S. and Burke, W.A.: Eruptive cherry angiomas and irritant symptoms after one acute exposure to the glycol ether solvent 2-butoxyethanol. J. Occup. Environ. Med. 40(12): 1059-1064, 1998.
  • Tyl RW, Millicovsky G, Dodd DE, et al. 1984. Teratologic evaluation of ethylene glycol monobutyl ether in Fischer 344 rats and New Zealand white rabbits following inhalation exposure. Environ Health Perspect 57:47-68.

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