Commonly, ethylene glycol is used as a sterilizing compound of medical equipment and medical supplies. It is also used as a fumigant in some agricultural products. According to the department of labor, (which regulates the use of ethylene oxide through its OSHA standards) :
“Unfortunately, EtO possesses several physical and health hazards that merit special attention. EtO is both flammable and highly reactive. Acute exposures to EtO gas may result in respiratory irritation and lung injury, headache, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, shortness of breath, and cyanosis. Chronic exposure has been associated with the occurrence of cancer, reproductive effects, mutagenic changes, neurotoxicity, and sensitization” (Labor).
a safe working environment for their employees. This, according to the statute includes but is not limited to increased safety when working with hazardous chemicals, to wit, chemicals that could cause permanent harm or death. Within the regulations, are definitions which delineate the considerations and precautions that must be taken by those using ethylene glycol. One of the most jarring definitions was “Catastrophic emission”. This term is defined as an event that could cause an explosion which may result in death. Clearly, it does not take much to mishandle this chemical and one cannot help but wonder if the OSHA standards are indeed protective enough. Furthermore, the standards require that employers provide written safety information to employees handling this type of chemical but there is nothing that specifically calls for onsite training or any testing methods by which an employer may assure themselves that their employers and the facility are in fact understanding of the directives and therefore adequately protected.
Section 1910.119(d)(1)(vii) of the regulations only briefly discusses “Hazardous effects of inadvertent mixing of different materials that could foreseeably occur.”