EPA Takes a “Glyme”- Out

Photo by Patrik Johansson. Some rights reserved.

You’d be forgiven for mistaking “glyme” for a fitness drink, a swanky speakeasy, or a supervillain made of toxic sludge, but “glyme” is in fact the common name for Dimethoxyethane, a liquid ether with a wide spectrum of uses, including as a solvent in lithium batteries, paints and dyes, and in some car brake systems. Glymes also play a part in the controversial process of hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” which readers of this blog should be more than familiar with. But the wacky world of glymes may have some storm clouds on the horizon, as the EPA is now following up on preliminary investigations into the substance’s potentially harmful side effects begun in 2008 with new proposed rulemaking.

The EPA proposed a new Significant New Use Rule (and here’s the press release) last week that would investigate the potentially harmful (glyme is thought to harm the reproductive system and potentially development) effects of usage of 14 chemical compounds classified as glymes and conclude whether or not the products are safe for continued use, with a 90 day period set aside for evaluation.

As a Significant New Use Rule (or SNUR), however, as Treehugger points out, the EPA would only be able to regulate new uses of glymes, and all existing uses would be able to remain in use, which though human exposure to glymes has been supposedly limited, could lead to further legislation down the road, depending on their findings.

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