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2D structural formula of 2-Methoxyethanol


What is it?

“2-Methoxyethanol, or methyl cellosolve, is an organic compound with formula C3H8O2 that is used mainly as a solvent. It is a clear, colorless liquid with an ether-like odor.” Wikipedia

What are the effects?

This substance belongs to the groups:

The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) identifies that methoxyethanol “may damage fertility and may damage the unborn child, is a flammable liquid and vapour, is harmful if swallowed, is harmful in contact with skin, is harmful if inhaled, and causes damage to organs.”

The US federal agency Center for Disease Control of Prevention (CDC) warns that 2-Methoxyethanol target the following organs eyes, respiratory system, central nervous system, blood, kidneys, reproductive system,  and hematopoietic system.

It is often highlighted that high levels of 2-Methoxyethanol is toxic to testicles and linked to oligozoospermia (low concentration of sperm in semen and abnormalities in sperm shape and movement, common findings in male infertility).

Canada and the EU have prohibited the use of the substance in cosmetic products.

Methoxyethanol is on the Red List* from Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, a project of Breast Cancer Prevention Partners (previously the Breast Cancer Fund). They classify the substance as a developmental toxicant and of occupational concern.

This substance has polyethylene glycol derivatives; polymers of ethylene oxide. It becomes visible in some of the synonym names to 2-Methoxyethanol, for example ethylene glycol monomethyl ether and glycol monomethyl ether. This means that it is possible that 2-Methoxyethanol may also contain trace amounts of ethylene oxide and also impurities from 1,4-dioxane which is formed in the chemical reaction.


Even though it is not listed on the ingredients label, products with this substance may contain toxic impurities from:

* “The Red List includes chemicals found in personal care products that pose serious, chronic health concerns including cancer, hormone disruption, and reproductive and developmental harm. The list also flags chemicals that are banned or have use restrictions by the U.S. or other world governments, ingredients that adversely impact worker health, and ingredients that are widely used in products marketed to women of color.” – Campaign for Safe Cosmetics

How is it used?

2-methoxyethanol, also called methoxyethanol or methyl cellosolve, is used as a solvent (dissolves other substances) in many consumer products. Found for example in varnishes and dyes.

Did you find this ingredient in a product?

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