Ethylene Glycol


CAS No. 107-21-1

Ethylene glycol (HOCHCHOH) is a colorless, syrupy liquid. It can harm the eyes, skin, kidneys, and respiratory system. Ethylene glycol can cause death if swallowed. Workers may be harmed from exposure to ethylene glycol. The level of exposure depends upon the dose, duration, and work being done.

Ethylene glycol is used in many industries. It is used as an antifreeze, in making polyester plastics, and  for some manufacturing. Some examples of workers at risk of being exposed to ethylene glycol include the following:

  • Factory workers involved in the manufacture of polyester
  • Workers who use certain solvents
  • Employees working with heating and cooling systems
  • Factory workers exposed to certain manufacturing processes

NIOSH recommends that employers use Hierarchy of Controls to prevent injuries. If you work in an industry that uses ethylene glycol, please read chemical labels and the accompanying Safety Data Sheets for hazard information. Visit NIOSH’s page on Managing Chemical Safety in the Workplace to learn more about controlling chemical workplace exposures.

The following resources provide information about occupational exposure to ethylene glycol. Useful search terms for ethylene glycol include “1,2-dihydroxyethane,” “1,2-ethanediol,” “glycol,” “glycol alcohol,” and “monoethylene glycol.”

NIOSH Chemical Resources

Logo of NIOSH Pocket Guide

The NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards (NPG) helps workers, employers, and occupational health professionals recognize and control workplace chemical hazards.

Logo of Manual of Analytical Methods.

The NIOSH Manual of Analytical Methods (NMAM) is a collection of methods for sampling and analysis of contaminants in workplace air, and in the blood and urine of workers who are occupationally exposed.

Logo of Health Hazard Evaluations consisting of three letters: HHE

The Health Hazard Evaluation Program (HHE) conducts onsite investigations of possible worker exposure to chemicals. Search the HHE database for more information on ethylene glycol.

Related NIOSH Resources

Selected Publications

Related Resources

International Resources

Page last reviewed: November 2, 2018, 02:30 PM