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Understanding " Butyl " Ethylene Glycol Monobutyl Ether

For more than 60 years, glycol ethers have been used as key ingredients in the production of cleaners, degreasers, water-based coatings, and solvent based coating systems. The glycol ethers aid in soil penetration and suspension for cleaners and in the case of coatings, pigment suspension and leveling. The most popular of the glycol ether series is ethylene glycol monobutyl ether further referred to as EGBE. EGBE is made by reacting ethylene oxide with monobutyl ether. This product is sold commercially under a variety of names: Butyl Cellosolve ( Union Carbide ), Butyl Oxitol ( Shell Chemical ), Dowanol EB ( Dow Chemical ), Ektasolve EB ( Eastman Chemical ), Glycol Ether EB ( Oxy Petrochemicals ), 2-Butoxyethanol, and Ethylene Glycol Monobutyl Ether. Because EGBE's chemical structure contains an ether and an alcohol, it can attack both water soluble dirt and water insoluble oils and greases.

The ability to hold pigments and resins in fluid form until applied to surfaces makes EGBE an important ingredient in the coatings and resin industry. Although there are alternatives to EGBE for individual applications, there is no across-the-board replacement. Despite reassuring results from toxicological tests involving EGBE, studies of other similar sounding ethylene glycol ethers have sparked scientific inquiry, media coverage, and regulatory attention. As a result, some misperceptions developed in the use of EGBE. Studies suggest that there is little possibility of significant adverse health effects in humans exposed to EGBE at levels encountered in workplaces that comply with OSHA exposure limits. The Misco Products Millennium HP, Millennium C and Millennium RTU family of degreasers contains a " P " series of glycol ethers which are so safe that they do not appear on the Government Regulatory Listing. This propylene type of glycol ether is relatively new and is slowly finding its way into cleaning formulations.


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