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Glycol Ethers Regulations


The new Chemicals regulation 1907/2006 concerning the Registration, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (known as REACH) obliges all those producing or importing chemical substances in quantities of more than 1 tonne per year to register with the European Chemicals Agency. The registration dossier will include detailed information on the intrinsic properties of the substance. In addition, any substances deemed to be hazardous will also require the registration dossier to include detailed information on exposures and consequent risks throughout the supply chain and to recommend risk reduction measures where needed. The glycol ether producers in Europe are currently working together in a consortium to address the registration requirements of the glycol ether family. For further information please contact the Consortium Manager.


The REACH regulation obliges manufacturers and importers of chemical substances to develop so-called Exposure Scenarios (ESs) as part of their registration. These scenarios describe the conditions which – if followed – ensure that the substance can be used safely i.e. without harm to man or the environment, and which are required to be communicated to downstream users as an Annex to the extended Safety Data Sheet (eSDS).

Against the background of more than 1,000 different existing solvents that are used in several hundreds of different applications this would have resulted in endless different combinations of exposure scenarios that would have created an enormous burden for chemical suppliers and downstream customers to manage thoroughly within the ambitious REACH deadlines.

Hence, ESIG (European Solvents Industry Group) has developed the approach of generic exposure scenarios (GES): solvents are clustered by hazard and volatility, the uses of solvents are clustered by a combination of their hazard profile and key physicochemical properties i.e. different use combinations that represent similar risks and are controlled using similar risk management approaches.

The GES concept described above, which fully meets the REACH requirements and was endorsed both by ECHA (European Chemicals Agency) and Cefic (European Council of the Chemical Industry), resulted in 22 standard generic exposure scenarios for solvents with low/moderate/high volatility for industrial (I), professional (P) and consumer (C) uses.

Those GES developed for solvents are consequently applicable for glycol ethers.

Please click on the following links to get further information on :

GES Library including 22 standard generick exposure scenarios – Click
Development of Consumer GES – Click
GES Specific Environmental Release Categories (SpERCS) – Click


Complementary to REACH is the other key new EU regulation 1272/2008 on the Classification, Labelling and Packaging of substances and mixtures (known as CLP). The CLP regulations implement in the EU the international criteria agreed by the United Nation Economic and Social Council (UN ECOSOC) for the classification and labelling of hazardous substances and mixtures, more commonly known as the Globally Harmonised System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS). CLP replaces and repeals the existing directives on classification and labelling of dangerous substances and preparations. The legislative instruments now replaced with REACH and CLP are shown below:

CLP also harmonises the rules for the classification and labelling of substances for supply and transport. Both the REACH and CLP regulations are now in force but both have a long transition process such that REACH will not be fully implemented until 2018 (registration date for phase in substances manufactured or imported in the range 1-10tpa) and CLP until 2017 (end of the period for mixtures labelled under the old directives to clear supply chains).

There are other EU laws that impact on glycol ethers, the EU Directives 80/1107/EEC, on “protection of workers from the risks related to exposure to chemical, physical and biological agents at work” and 89/391/EEC, on “Measures to encourage improvements in the safety and health of workers at work”, and their respective daughter directives. In particular, 91/322/EEC on “indicative limit values” and 98/24/EC on “the protection of the health and safety of workers from the risks related to chemical agents at work” oblige employers to assess the risks at the workplace and to take the risk reduction measures where appropriate. In addition, they require observation of the legal exposure limits. Indicative exposure limits do not have direct action in law but national authorities are obliged to take them into account when setting national limits.

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