Is Butyl Cellosolve Safe in Carpet Cleaning Products such as Detergents, Spotters and Traffic Lane Spotters?

Safety Label for Butyl Cellosolve

Butyl Cellosolve is commonly used in many professional carpet cleaning spotters, detergents, presprays and traffic lane spotters

Butyl Cellosolve is a water-soluble solvent that attacks both water-soluble soils and water-insoluble oils and greases and has a very characteristic odor that most users find irritating.

Butyl Cellosolve is a unique solvent that is soluble in water yet is so strong that it is commonly used in wax strippers, heavy-duty ready-to-use cleaners, all-purpose cleaners, degreasers, wax strippers, bath and tile cleaners and most commercial window cleaners. Butyl Cellosolve solvent is a clear liquid with a mild ether odor. It is completely soluble in water and is miscible with mineral oils and soaps. It is a good solvent often used in cleaners (including cleaners for carpet cleaning), inks, paints, coatings and lacquers.

In a traffic lane spotter, spotter or window cleaner, for example, butyl is very irritating to the nose, eyes and throat when heavily sprayed in an enclosed interior area or room.

Any cleaning product containing Butyl Cellosolve should be used with good ventilation.

Butyl Cellosolve is also known as EGBE, 2-Butoxyethanol, Butoxyethanol, Ethylene Glycol Monobutyl Ether and Monobutyl Ethylene Glycol Ether. Note that Butyl Carbitol is not the same as butyl cellosolve and is safer.

Because Butyl Cellosolve in the past has been considered highly toxic and is very irritating when sprayed in the air, Bane-Clene has never used Butyl Cellosolve in any of its own product formulations.

The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) rates Butyl Cellosolve as “Immediately Dangerous to Life or Health Concentrations.”

Excerpts from the Product Safety Assessment by Dow Chemical about the Safety of Butyl Cellosolve:

  • Although some glycol ethers, specifically ethylene glycol methyl ether (EGME) and ethylene glycol ethyl ether (EGEE), cause adverse reproductive effects and birth defects in laboratory animals, EGBE does not show the same pattern of toxicity as these other glycol ethers. Human experience and animal studies have shown that EGBE is unlikely to cause adverse health effects when products are used as directed. Skin contact with EGBE before it is diluted in commercial formulations should be avoided. Airborne concentrations of EGBE should be maintained below permissible exposure limits.
  • When used improperly, EGBE can cause eye, respiratory tract and skin irritation. It may cause moderate corneal injury and the eye may be slow to heal. Repeated skin exposure may cause irritation and even a burn. EGBE should not be ingested. Intentional ingestion of EGBE containing products can be toxic to humans.
  • Inhalation may cause headaches, hemolysis (red blood cell breakage) and secondary effects to the kidney and liver. Human red blood cells have been shown to be significantly less sensitive to hemolysis than those of rodents and rabbits.
  • In the most recent inhalation studies, rats and mice were exposed to EGBE in air for their lifetimes. These studies found “some” evidence of cancer in mice and “equivocal” (uncertain) evidence in rats.
  • In June 2004, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) announced that its experts’ review found inadequate human evidence of carcinogenicity and limited animal evidence of carcinogenicity for EGBE. EGBE is now classified as a Group 3 substance, which is not classifiable as to its carcinogenicity to humans.
  • Also, after extensive review of EGBE toxicity and exposure data, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) removed it from its list of Hazardous Air Pollutants (HAPs) in November 2004.
  • The EPA concluded that the Reference Concentration (RfC) expected for EGBE presents no appreciable risk with lifetime exposure, even for susceptible individuals.
  • Product formulations that contain 12.5 to 20 percent EGBE no longer need to be labeled as harmful unless other components cause the product to be harmful. Formulations containing 20 to 25 percent EGBE may now be labeled as irritants rather than harmful.
  • Click here for a link to the the Safety Data Sheet for Butyl Cellosolve by Dow Chemical, a manufacturer of Butyl Cellosolve.

Excerpts from the Safety Data Sheet by Sigma-Aldrich (2016) regarding the safety of butyl cellosolve (2-butoxyethanol):

  • Harmful if swallowed, in contact with skin or if inhaled.
  • Causes skin irritation.
  • Causes serious eye irritation.
  • Human exposure above 200 ppm can be expected to cause narcosis, damage to the kidney and liver and present an abnormal blood picture showing erythropenia, reticulocytosis, granulocytosis, leukocytosis, and would be likely to cause fragility of erythrocytes and hematuria.
  • Swallowing of 2-butoxyethanol results in a sour taste that turns to a burning sensation and is followed by numbness of the tongue which indicates paralysis of the sensory nerve endings., Central nervous system depression, Headache, narcosis.
  • HMIS Rating: Health hazard: 2, Chronic Health Hazard: *, Flammability: 2, Physical Hazard 0
  • NFPA Rating: Health hazard: 2, Fire Hazard: 2, Reactivity Hazard: 0

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Published by: Bane-Clene® Corp.
Copyright: Bane-Clene Corp.

Date Modified: March 13, 2021

Date Originally Published: April 3, 2017