Glycol Ethers and Endocrine Disruption
There is increasing concern and awareness of exposure to chemicals that have the potential to disrupt the endocrine systems (so called endocrine disruptors or ED for short). This is not just exposure of humans to such chemicals but also other species via the environment. There have been numerous publications in the past decade or so making claims that glycol ethers have ED properties. To check the validity of these claims and to review the wider data as a whole on glycol ethers, the glycol ethers sector group of OSPA commissioned two comprehensive reviews of all the data on glycol ethers, the first on the E series and the second on the P series, These reviews systematically evaluated all of the available and relevant in vitro and in vivo data across the two families of substances using an approach based around the EFSA/ECHA 2018 guidance for the identification of endocrine disruptors. The reviews also included critical assessments of publications that included claims or postulated evidence of glycol ether ED properties. Both reviews concluded that there is no significant evidence to show that glycol ethers target any endocrine organs or perturb endocrine pathways and that any toxicity that is seen occurs by non-endocrine modes of action.
The two reviews are now published in peer reviewed journals and can be found here as open access manuscripts
- Kelsey JR (2022) Ethylene oxide derived glycol ethers: A review of the alkyl glycol ethers potential to cause endocrine disruption. Regul Toxicol Pharmacol. 2022 Mar;129:105113
- Kelsey JR, Seidel S. (2023) Propylene oxide derived glycol ethers: A review of the alkyl glycol ethers potential to cause endocrine disruption. Regul Toxicol Pharmacol. 2023 Jun 30:105442
Since these reviews were prepared, there have been other studies that have emerged making ED claims against glycol ethers. Click on each publication for a review by the OSPA glycol ethers sector group.
This is a review asserting that glycol ethers are a class of chemicals associated with endocrine disrupting properties. The authors do not make any distinction between the glycol ethers as a family or individually. The authors list a set of general toxic effects associated with glycol ethers, some of which are specific to a very small subset (such as reprotoxicity) and others that are quite generic to organic substances ingested in large doses (e.g. narcosis, liver and kidney effects.) They only cite one reference which is itself an editorial review of a single paper on neurodevelopmental rather than ED effects. Overall, this publication does not provide any evidence to support the assertion that GE (amongst many other substances covered by the publication) are ED.
Kirtana A, Seetharaman B (2022) Comprehending the Role of Endocrine Disruptors in Inducing Epigenetic Toxicity. Endocrine, Metabolic & Immune Disorders-Drug Targets 2022;22(11):1059-1072. DOI 10.2174/1871530322666220411082656