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2-Butoxyethanol is an organic solvent. Its chemical formula is BuOC2H4OH. It is a clear, colorless liquid that smells like ether.


2-butoxyethanol is used in a variety of products:

  • Paints
  • Solvents
  • Oil dispersants
  • Cosmetics
  • Firefighting foam
  • Dry-cleaning solutions
  • Herbicides
  • Home cleaning products


Potential Human Health Effects

  • The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has set an exposure limit of 50 parts of 2-butoxyethanol per million parts of air (50 ppm) for an 8-hour workday, 40-hour workweek (ASTDR 1999).
  • People exposed to high levels of 2-butoxyethanol for several hours reported irritation of the nose and eyes, headache, a metallic taste in their mouths, and vomiting (ATSDR 1999).
  • If large amounts are consumed orally it can cause breathing problems, low blood pressure, blood in urine, lowered levels of hemoglobin, and high levels of acid in the body. Coma, following consumption of large amounts, has been recorded in some cases (ASTDR 1998).
  • Low red blood cell counts in the spleen, kidney, and liver have been recorded in a number of studies on animals such as dogs, monkeys, and mice (ASTDR 1998).
  • While 2-Butoxyethanol is not registered as a carcinogen, the New Jersey Department of Health Hazardous Substance Fact Sheet states it "should be handled as a CARCINOGEN--WITH EXTREME CAUTION." The same fact sheet reports that it has been shown to cause liver cancer in animals. (NJ Factsheet)
  • Prolonged or repeated exposures can cause damage to the liver, kidneys, lymphoid system, blood and blood-forming organs (JT Baker 2009).

Potential Environmental Effects

  • Potential to biodegrade rapidly in water (HSDB)
  • Not expected to absorb to suspended solids or sediment (HSDB)
  • Listed as not acutely toxic to crustaceans, fish, and zooplankton (PANNA)


"ToxFAQs: 2-Butoxyethanol." Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. Aug. 1999. Web. 3 June 2010.

2-Butoxyethanol Toxicological Proile. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. Aug. 1998.



JT Baker MSDS-2009

New Jersey Department of Health Hazardous Substance Fact Sheet- 2-Butoxyethanol

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