&EPA	Pollution Prevention (P2) Spotlight
Reducing Glycol Ethers Waste Management
Overview of Glycol Ethers
Glycol ethers are a group of water-soluble organic compounds that have many uses,
including as solvents and as ingredients in cleaning compounds and paints. Certain
glycol ethers are considered toxic, and therefore reportable under the Toxics Release
Inventory (TRI). Industries that report large quantities of glycol ether waste
managed to TRI include fabricated metal manufacturers, chemical manufacturers,
and transportation equipment manufacturers.
Both short- and long-term exposure to toxic glycol ethers can have adverse health
effects. Short-term exposure can result in narcosis, pulmonary edema, and liver and
kidney damage. Chronic long-term exposure to toxic glycol ethers can result in
fatigue, lethargy, nausea, anorexia, tremor and anemia. Animal studies have also
reported reproductive and developmental effects from inhalation and oral exposure.1
Glycol Ethers Reported to the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI)
The TRI Program requires reporting on two individually listed glycol ethers2 and the chemical category "certain glycol
ethers." The category is defined by a chemical formula and includes hundreds of individual chemicals. For additional
guidance on the chemicals included in the certain glycol ethers category, see the TRI Glycol Ethers guidance document.
The quantity of glycol ether releases reported to TRI has decreased significantly in recent years. From 2003 to 2013, the
total quantity of glycol ethers released on- and off-site decreased by 38%, from 26 million pounds to 16 million pounds,
and the quantity of production-related waste (which includes quantities recycled, used for energy recovery, treated and
released) decreased by 55%, from over 252 million pounds to 113 million pounds. Over that same time period, the
number of facilities reporting glycol ethers to TRI also decreased considerably, even as 65% of the facilities that stopped
reporting glycol ethers continued to report other chemicals to TRI. The reduction in glycol ether releases can thus be
partly attributed to facilities reducing their use of glycol ethers below the reporting threshold, rather than simply closing.
Quick Stats for 2013
•	1,518 facilities reported
glycol ethers to TRI
•	314 newly implemented
source reduction (P2)
activities were reported
by 208 of these facilities
•	Facilities reported a 38%
decrease in glycol ether
releases from 2003 to
2013 and a 55%
decrease in total waste
25,000,000 -I—j
Releases of TRI-Listed Glycol Ethers
_ 5,000,000 	
Facilities Reporting Glycol Ethers: -23%
Releases: -38%
2,000 _
	1	1	1	1	1	1	1	1	1	1	
2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
On-site Air Releases	On-site Surface Water Discharges
Off-site Disposal or Other Releases	On-site Land Disposal

Pollution Prevention (P2) Spotlight
Commonly Reported P2 Activities for Glycol Ethers
In 2013, 14% of facilities reporting glycol ethers also reported newly
implemented source reduction (P2) activities. Commonly reported
activities include changing paints, coatings, cleaning materials or product
formulations to reduce glycol ethers use. Facilities also reported changing
production schedules to minimize equipment, feedstock and/or color
changes, which reduces the use of glycol ethers for cleaning.
Facilities have the option to submit more details describing their P2
efforts. Example P2 projects include:
•	A kitchen cabinet and countertop manufacturer replaced its primary
cleaning solution with a new solution that does not contain glycol
•	A burial casket manufacturer reduced the number of color
changeovers through batch production and increased its first-pass
yield, reducing its releases of glycol ethers.
•	Over several years, a printed circuit board manufacturer changed
equipment and process chemistry to reduce the quantity of glycol
ethers used.
•	A facility that manufactures aluminum building materials installed a
new paint line, significantly reducing glycol ether air emissions.
You can find these examples and more using EPA's P2 Search Tool.
An example P2 report annotated with descriptions provided by the
facility is shown below. To learn more about TRI and Pollution
Prevention, visit www.epa.gov/tri/p2.
Pollution Prevention at
Nordic Ware
Reporting Pollution Prevention to TRI
Reporting Pollution
Prevention to TRI
^	o Yoifwn
Nordic Ware is a kitchenware
manufacturer based in Minneapolis.
This facility worked with its suppliers
to reduce the amount of glycol ethers
in its coatings and found new
cleaning solutions with lower
quantities of glycol ethers. By 2013,
Nordic Ware decreased the quantity
of glycol ethers used on-site to levels
below the TRI reporting threshold.
Watch TRI's P2 video to learn more!
Production Related Waste Management for Selected Chemical
For more on the Waste Management Hierarchy, see the Pollution Prevention Overview page
Management of Certain Glycol Ethers	LJ kj
175,000 lbs
150,000 lbs
? 125,000 lbs
100,000 lbs
0 lbs
2004 2005 2006 2007 200S 2009 2010 2011 2012 201 3
Recycled B Energy Recovery Treated H Released Production Index
Chart Options:
Display waste quantities only
Purchased new equipment which
uses a flux that does not contain
glycol ethers.	
Decreased the use of a glycol-
containing chemical after process
engineering found that a non-glycol
ether chemistry worked better.
Changed the amount of strippers
containing reportable glycol ethers,
reducing the amount of glycol ethers
being discharged to the POTW even
with an increase in production.
• I Display production index
Normalize waste quantities relative to production
Display waste quantities as a percentage of total waste
Note that not all substitutes for glycol ethers are necessarily safer. EPA's Safer Chemical Ingredient List
includes a list of safer solvents that may provide options for companies looking to make substitutions,
depending upon the application.
Find more P2 examples using the P2 Search Tool at: www.epa.eov/tri/p2
This content is provided for informational purposes only. U.S. EPA does not endorse any of the companies listed above.	2