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2-Butoxyethanol

What is it?

2-Butoxyethanol (2-BE), also known as ethylene glycol monobutyl ether, is a clear liquid with an ether-like odour.

Where is it found and how is it used?

2-BE itself is not commercially produced in Canada. 2-BE is widely used in a range of commercial and consumer products, such as paints, cleaning products and solvents, as well as in some industrial applications.

What are its effects?

The 2003 assessment report completed under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (CEPA 1999) found that 2-butoxyethanol may be harmful to the health of Canadians but is not harmful to the environment. Based on investigations in experimental animals, the risk assessment report concluded that chronic exposure to 2-BE could cause alterations in blood that are associated with hemolytic anemia.

Emissions of 2-BE from industry into the atmosphere are not in concentrations high enough to pose a health risk to Canadians. There is no evidence that emissions of 2-BE from industry are in concentrations high enough to pose risks to the environment; however, there is evidence of health effects when 2-BE is used in indoor settings.

What are we doing?

2-BE was placed on the List of Toxic Substances under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (CEPA 1999) in 2005. The Government of Canada has proposed regulations that will protect human health by establishing concentrations limits for 2-BE in various commercial and consumer products designed for indoor use, thereby controlling the general population's exposure to it. The final regulations to control 2-BE in cleaning and paint products are expected to be issued in Winter 2007.

Health effects for any substance depend on the amount of exposure, and how that exposure occurs.