A Beginner’s Guide to Ethylene Glycol: Uses and Safety Tips

A Beginner’s Guide to Ethylene Glycol: Uses and Safety Tips

We use chemicals every day, however, frequent use can lead some people to disregard the dangers of working with hazardous chemicals. Almost 77% of poisoning exposures are unintentional.

Ethylene Glycol is a chemical that is used often in the industrial world. Because of the frequency that Ethylene Glycol is used it is important to understand how to use it safely. So, if you would like to learn more about preventing a potentially dangerous situation, let’s get started!

What Is Ethylene Glycol 

Ethylene Glycol is a syrupy and colorless liquid that is used in many industries. It can be used as an antifreeze as well as in the production of polyester plastics.

The chemical is slightly denser than water because the Ethylene Glycol molar mass is 62.07 grams per mole (g/mol). Although it is very toxic, Ethylene Glycol is still commonly used. Proper use and management of chemicals is the only way to ensure safety. 

Health Hazards

Ethylene Glycol is extremely toxic when ingested. The following symptoms will occur if the chemical is ingested:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting 
  • Coma
  • Seizure
  • Respiratory failure
  • Kidney failure
  • Death

Inhalation of Ethylene Glycol also poses a threat to those who are working with the chemical. The following symptoms are due to inhalation:

  • Severe headache
  • Coughing 
  • Nausea 
  • Vomiting 
  • Damage to eyes
  • Damage to lungs, kidneys, and liver if high amounts are inhaled

Ethylene Glycol is not easily absorbed through the skin so toxicity is not likely via dermal absorption. Irritation can occur, however, if the chemical comes into contact with the eyes. 

Who Is at Risk

Because of its many industrious uses, Ethylene Glycol poses a threat to many workers. Here is a list of those who are at high risk for exposure:

  • Polyester manufacturing workers
  • Workers who use solvents
  • Those who work with heating and cooling
  • Airplane and auto mechanics
  • Factory workers

Ethylene Glycol can be used safely and effectively without injury. Using a hierarchy of controls protects employees from exposure and injury due to the chemical. 

How to Stay Safe 

Safety is key when handling Ethylene Glycol. When handling the chemical always wear personal protective equipment. Protective eye-wear, proper clothing, and gloves should be standard PPE when handling chemicals. 

Never breathe in mist or vapors from Ethylene Glycol. This chemical is highly combustible, so when storing, always keep away from heat and fire. Never store Ethylene in an unlabeled container. Make sure that all containers are tightly shut and stored in a cool, dry place that has ample ventilation. 

First Aid 

In case of exposure, contact a medical professional right away. If Ethylene Glycol comes into contact with the eyes rinse immediately for at least 15 minutes.

If it is inhaled immediately move to an area to get fresh air. Never give direct mouth to mouth with someone who has inhaled or ingested chemicals, but instead, use a mask with a one-way valve to protect yourself. if ingested, waste no time and call poison control immediately. 

Staying Safe When Using Chemicals 

Chemicals such as Ethylene Glycol are valuable tools in the industry world. Maintaining safe procedures for use and storage is the best way to keep safe. 

If you are interested in learning more about how you can manage your safety in the workplace click here today! 

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