EPA Science Inventory

The Verification of a Method for Detecting and Quantifying Diethylene Glycol, Triethylene Glycol, Tetraethylene Glycol, 2-Butoxyethanol and 2-Methoxyethanolin in Ground and Surface Waters

Citation:

Schumacher, B. AND L. Zintek. The Verification of a Method for Detecting and Quantifying Diethylene Glycol, Triethylene Glycol, Tetraethylene Glycol, 2-Butoxyethanol and 2-Methoxyethanolin in Ground and Surface Waters. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, DC, EPA/600/R-14/008, 2014.

Description:

This verification study was a special project designed to determine the efficacy of a draft standard operating procedure (SOP) developed by US EPA Region 3 for the determination of selected glycols in drinking waters that may have been impacted by active unconventional oil and gas operations utilizing hydraulic fracturing (HF) extraction. HF has become increasingly prevalent as a method of extracting energy resources from “unconventional” reservoirs, such as coalbeds, shales, and tight sands. Concerns have been raised about the potential for hydraulic fracturing fluid chemical additives to enter ground water aquifers that, in turn, may be used as drinking water sources. One group of hydraulic fracturing fluid chemical additives that concerns have been raised about includes the additives: 2-methoxyethanol (2-ME), 2-butoxyethanol (2-BE), diethylene glycol (Di-EG), triethylene glycol (Tri-EG), and tetraethylene glycol (Tetra-EG). The primary objective of this study was to verify the performance and robustness of the draft standard operating procedure (SOP) in multiple laboratories. This study verified a simple and rapid high performance-liquid chromatography/tandem mass spectrometry (HPLC/MS/MS) method for the quantitation of these five chemical additives in aqueous samples. The draft method was quick, required little to no sample preparation, and utilized the sensitivity that HPLC/MS/MS provides.

Purpose/Objective:

Glycols and glycol ethers are solvents and chemical intermediates commonly used during the production of many resins, plasticizers, adhesives, surfactants, and cosmetics. Due to their useful properties, many glycols and glycol ethers, including 2-methoxyethanol (2-ME), 2-butoxyethanol (2-BE), diethylene glycol (Di-EG), triethylene glycol (Tri-EG), and tetraethylene glycol (Tetra-EG), have been classified as high-production volume chemicals by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA).1 2-BE is a common ingredient in paints, adhesives, pigments, and detergents.2 2-ME is primarily used as an intermediate processing solvent.22Di-EG is commonly used in antifreeze formulations, hydraulic fluids, cosmetics, lubricants, and inks.3 Additionally, these compounds have frequently been used during oil and gas production. For example, ethylene glycol, Di-EG, Tri-EG, and Tetra-EG are commonly used during the dehydration processes of natural gas,4 and glycol ethers are used as foaming agents and in breaker fluids during hydraulic fracturing.5 Glycols and glycol ethers predominantly biodegrade after a few weeks in an aerobic environment,6-8 and the potential for bioaccumulation of these compounds is low. However, human exposure to 2-ME and 2-BE can cause renal failure, hemolysis, and encephalopathy.9 Long-term exposure to 2-BE has caused cancer in rats and mice, raising concerns about the possible carcinogenicity of 2-BE; however, there have been no reports of 2-BE causing cancer in humans.10 Di-EG poisoning has occurred many times due to contaminated pharmaceutical products being ingested and can lead to acute renal failure, anuria, metabolic acidosis, neurological complications, and in extreme cases, death.3 Health effects from Tri-EG and Tetra-EG exposure are considered negligible.9

URLs/Downloads:

SCHUMACHER ORD-007141 REPORT EPA-600-R-14-008-SCHUMACHER INTERLABORATORY 7-9-14.PDF   (PDF,NA pp, 1618 KB,  about PDF)

Record Details:

Record Type: DOCUMENT (PUBLISHED REPORT/REPORT)
Start Date: 06/30/2014
Completion Date: 06/30/2014
Record Last Revised: 07/29/2014
Record Created: 06/30/2014
Record Released: 06/30/2014
OMB Category: Other
Record ID: 279774

Organization:

U.S. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY

OFFICE OF RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT

NATIONAL EXPOSURE RESEARCH LAB

ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES DIVISION