What is it?
Ethylene glycol is a colorless liquid that can be in the air in vapor form. It is used to make antifreeze and de-icing solutions for cars, airplanes, airport runways, and boats.
Ethylene glycol is used in hydraulic brake fluids and inks for stamp pads, ballpoint pens, and print shops. It is also used to make some plastics and textiles.
Where is Ethylene Glycol found?
- Consumer products – antifreeze, brake fluids, inks, plastics, and textiles
- Air – vapor emissions
How can I be exposed to Ethylene Glycol?
Ethylene Glycol commonly enter(s) the body through:
- Swallowing liquids that contain ethylene glycol
- Breathing ethylene glycol vapors
- Touching antifreeze or other products that contain ethylene glycol
What happens when I am exposed to Ethylene Glycol?
Swallowing larger amounts of ethylene glycol can cause:
- Serious illness
- Potentially fatal kidney toxicity
Exposure to ethylene glycol can:
- Affect kidney function
- Change the body’s acid balance
- Affect the nervous system, lungs, and heart
Who is at risk for exposure to Ethylene Glycol?
- Some consumer and automotive products contain ethylene glycol.
Reduce your risk
If you think your health has been affected by exposure to ethyl glycol, contact your health care professional.
Always wash your hands thoroughly after handling chemicals. For poisoning emergencies or questions about possible poisons, please contact your local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222.
- Do you use antifreeze products?
- Read product labels.
- Use antifreeze, coolants, or brake fluid with caution, and avoid inhaling or touching them.
- Don’t store antifreeze in anything other than the original container, such as a cup or soft drink bottle, to avoid someone mistaking it for a beverage.
- Make sure antifreeze containers have a child-proof cap, are stored away from food, and are properly marked.
- Keep antifreeze products out of the reach of children.
- Don’t leave opened bottles of antifreeze on or near the ground where children can reach them.
- Avoid spilling or draining antifreeze on the ground to prevent children and pets from playing in it.
National Library of Medicine Resources and Databases
- Ethylene Glycol Poisoning
Information on ethylene glycol poisoning, including causes, symptoms, exams and tests, treatment, prognosis, possible complications, and prevention.
- Ethylene Glycol. Hazardous Substances Data Bank
Search results on ethylene glycol from a toxicology database that focuses on the toxicology of potentially hazardous chemicals.
- Ethylene Glycol. ToxFAQs
(Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry)
Factsheet with answers to most frequently asked questions about ethylene glycol exposure and its effect on human health, developed by a federal public health agency that protects communities from harmful health effects related to exposure to natural and man-made hazardous substances.