New family of chemicals of concern

US Environmental Protection Agency is expressing concern about the toxicity of some members of a family of chemicals which they refer to as ‘glymes’. Glymes are persistent organic chemicals and, if confirmed as toxic to the environment and/or human health, might easily become the next chemical scare. EPA is trying to regulate the chemicals before they become a serious contaminant but the regulatory requirements for pulling an existing use in the US are high.

If you are located in Canada there is a good chance you have never heard of glymes. GallonDaily’s editor, who reviews a multitude of household product ingredients to determine whether they qualify as green products, has never seen a ‘glyme’ declared as a product ingredient. However, just because the term glyme is not used in Canadian industry does not mean that the substances are not being used. Your editor has seen some of the following, which are apparently the glyme chemicals, listed as product ingredients:

  • Monoethylene glycol dimethyl ether
  • Diethylene glycol dimethyl ether
  • Diethylene glycol diethyl ether
  • Triethylene glycol dimethyl ether
  • Diethylene glycol dibutyl ether
  • Tetraethylene glycol dibutyl ether
  • Tetraethylene glycol dimethyl ether
  • Ethylene glycol diethyl ether
  • Tetraethylene glycol diethyl ether
  • Pentaethylene glycol diethyl ether
  • Polyethylene glycol dimethyl ether
  • Polyethylene glycol dibutyl ether
  • Pentaethylene glycol dibutyl ether
  • Triethylene glycol dimethyl ether

Companies using any of these substances in their own operations or in products carrying their brand are advised to follow closely the US Environmental Protection Agency’s regulatory initiatives with respect to ‘glymes’. For details see the US Federal register at http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2011-07-12/html/2011-17084.htm

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