Evaluation of workers exposed to ethylene glycol monomethyl ether and ethylene glycol monomethyl ether acetate

Park, J.; Yoon, C.; Byun, H.; Kim, Y.; Park, D.; Ha, K.; Lee, S.m.; Park, S.; Chung, E.

Journal of Occupational Health 54(2): 141-146


ISSN/ISBN: 1348-9585
PMID: 22293243
DOI: 10.1539/joh.11-0179-fs
Accession: 053090351

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Ethylene glycol monomethyl ether (EGME) and ethylene glycol monomethyl ether acetate (EGMEA) are widely used in industries as solvents for coatings, paint and ink, but exposure data are limited because they are minor components out of mixed solvents, as well as because of inconsistency in desorption solvent use. The objective of this study was to investigate the worker exposure profile of EGME and EGMEA. Our study investigated 27 workplaces from June to September 2008 and detected EGME and EGMEA in 20 and 13, respectively. Both personal and area sampling were conducted using a charcoal tube to collect EGME and EGMEA. Gas chromatography with a flame ionization detector was used to analyze these compounds after desorption using a mixture of methylene chloride and methanol. The arithmetic mean concentrations of EGME and EGMEA during periods of full work shifts were 2.59 ppm and 0.33 ppm, respectively. The exposure levels were lower than the Korean Ministry of Labor (MOL) OEL (5 ppm) but higher than the ACGIH TLV (0.1 ppm). In general, the working environments were poor and required much improvement, including the use of personal protective equipment. Only 50% of the workplaces had local exhaust ventilation systems in operation. The average capture velocity of the operating local exhaust ventilation systems was 0.27 m/s, which did not meet the legal requirement of 0.5 m/s. Educating workers to clearly understand the handling and use of hazardous chemicals and improving working conditions are strongly suggested.