Exposure to ethylene glycol monomethyl ether: clinical and cytogenetic findings

Arch Environ Health. 2002 Jul-Aug;57(4):371-6. doi: 10.1080/00039890209601424.


Glycol ethers are known reproductive and developmental toxins in laboratory animals, but little is known about their genotoxic effects in humans. In the current article, the authors tested the hypothesis that human in utero exposure to ethylene glycol monomethyl ether (EGME) is associated with the development of specific congenital anomalies and elevated levels of chromosome aberrations. The authors conducted a clinical and cytogenetic evaluation of 41 offspring of 28 females occupationally exposed to EGME for an average duration of 4.6 yr. Six offspring of 5 women who were occupationally exposed to EGME during pregnancy exhibited characteristic dysmorphic features that were not observed in 35 offspring of 23 women who worked in the same facility, but who were not pregnant at the time of exposure. Persistent cytogenetic damage was observed exclusively in all 6 in-utero-exposed offspring, but not in their 12 match non-in-utero-exposed controls. The study characterizes EGME as a human teratogen, as indicated by the prevalence of characteristic dysmorphic features and persistent cytogenetic damage in individuals exposed in utero to this chemical.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Chromosome Aberrations*
  • Congenital Abnormalities / etiology*
  • DNA Damage
  • Ethylene Glycols / adverse effects*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • In Situ Hybridization, Fluorescence
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Occupational Exposure*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects*
  • Solvents / adverse effects*


  • Ethylene Glycols
  • Solvents
  • 2-ethoxyethanol