Exposure of German residents to ethylene and propylene glycol ethers in general and after cleaning scenarios
Chemosphere | 8 Jan 2013
H Fromme, L Nitschke, S Boehmer, M Kiranoglu and T Göen
Glycol ethers are a class of semi-volatile substances used as solvents in a variety of consumer products like cleaning agents, paints, cosmetics as well as chemical intermediates. We determined 11 metabolites of ethylene and propylene glycol ethers in 44 urine samples of German residents (background level study) and in urine samples of individuals after exposure to glycol ethers during cleaning activities (exposure study). In the study on the background exposure, methoxyacetic acid and phenoxyacetic acid (PhAA) could be detected in each urine sample with median (95th percentile) values of 0.11mgL(-1) (0.30mgL(-1)) and 0.80mgL(-1) (23.6mgL(-1)), respectively. The other metabolites were found in a limited number of samples or in none. In the exposure study, 5-8 rooms were cleaned with a cleaner containing ethylene glycol monobutyl ether (EGBE), propylene glycol monobutyl ether (PGBE), or ethylene glycol monopropyl ether (EGPE). During cleaning the mean levels in the indoor air were 7.5mgm(-3) (EGBE), 3.0mgm(-3) (PGBE), and 3.3mgm(-3) (EGPE), respectively. The related metabolite levels analysed in the urine of the residents of the rooms at the day of cleaning were 2.4mgL(-1) for butoxyacetic acid, 0.06mgL(-1) for 2-butoxypropionic acid, and 2.3mgL(-1) for n-propoxyacetic acid. Overall, our study indicates that the exposure of the population to glycol ethers is generally low, with the exception of PhAA. Moreover, the results of the cleaning scenarios demonstrate that the use of indoor cleaning agents containing glycol ethers can lead to a detectable internal exposure of residents.
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