From WikiMD's Food, Medicine & Wellness Encyclopedia

2-Methoxyethanol, also known as ethylene glycol monomethyl ether (EGME), is a solvent used in a variety of industrial and commercial applications due to its excellent solvency properties. It is a colorless liquid with a mild, pleasant odor, which is miscible with water, alcohols, and most organic solvents. This compound is of significant interest in both industrial chemistry and toxicology due to its widespread use and potential health effects.

Properties and Production[edit | edit source]

2-Methoxyethanol is an organic compound with the chemical formula C3H8O2. It is produced primarily through the reaction of ethylene oxide with methanol, a process that can be catalyzed by acids or bases. This compound exhibits both ether and alcohol functional groups, which accounts for its versatile solvency characteristics. It has a boiling point of 124-125 °C and a melting point of -85 °C.

Applications[edit | edit source]

The solvent properties of 2-methoxyethanol make it useful in a variety of applications. It is commonly used in the production of paints, varnishes, and inks, where it acts as a solvent to dissolve resins, dyes, and other components. Additionally, it is used in the electronics industry for the production of semiconductors and circuit boards, as it can effectively clean and degrease surfaces without damaging sensitive components.

In the field of chemistry, 2-methoxyethanol is used as a solvent for electrolytes in electrochemical applications and as a starting material in the synthesis of other chemical compounds. Its ability to dissolve both polar and non-polar substances makes it a valuable tool in laboratories.

Health Effects[edit | edit source]

Exposure to 2-methoxyethanol can occur through inhalation, ingestion, or skin contact. The compound is known to have adverse health effects, particularly on the reproductive system. It has been classified as a reproductive toxin, with evidence suggesting that it can cause birth defects and reproductive harm in both males and females. Other potential health effects include irritation of the skin, eyes, and respiratory tract, as well as effects on the blood, such as hemolysis.

Due to these health concerns, the use of 2-methoxyethanol is regulated in many countries, with guidelines and exposure limits set to protect workers and the general public. It is important for industries that use this chemical to implement proper safety measures, including the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) and adequate ventilation.

Environmental Impact[edit | edit source]

2-Methoxyethanol is biodegradable and has a moderate potential for bioaccumulation. However, its release into the environment should be minimized due to its toxicity. It can contaminate water sources, posing risks to aquatic life. Environmental regulations may require monitoring and controlling emissions of 2-methoxyethanol to prevent environmental contamination.

Regulation and Safety[edit | edit source]

Regulatory bodies, such as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in the United States and the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) in the European Union, have established exposure limits for 2-methoxyethanol. Safety data sheets (SDS) provide detailed information on handling, storage, and emergency measures in case of exposure.

Conclusion[edit | edit source]

2-Methoxyethanol is a versatile solvent with a wide range of industrial applications. However, its potential health and environmental impacts necessitate careful handling and regulation. Ongoing research into safer alternatives and improved safety measures can help mitigate the risks associated with its use.


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Contributors: Prab R. Tumpati, MD