Assessing Exposure to Propylene Glycol and Glycol Ethers in Relation to Asthma and Allergic Disease: Independent Risk Factor or Correlate of Known Triggers?

EPA Grant Number: FP917434
Title: Assessing Exposure to Propylene Glycol and Glycol Ethers in Relation to Asthma and Allergic Disease: Independent Risk Factor or Correlate of Known Triggers?
Investigators: Byrne, Samuel Carter
Institution: The State University of New York
EPA Project Officer: Lee, Sonja
Project Period: August 1, 2012 through July 31, 2014
Project Amount: $84,000
RFA: STAR Graduate Fellowships (2012) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Academic Fellowships , Fellowship - Public Health Sciences


Exposure to PGEs in the home environment is associated significantly with clinically diagnosed asthma and multiple allergic diseases in a cohort of Swedish children. Furthermore, PGE concentrations in indoor air significantly predicted elevated dampness, or excess humidity, in the home. Home dampness is a well-known risk factor for asthma and allergic diseases; however, specific causal mechanisms of its action remain unknown. Dampness is associated positively with multiple indoor risk factors for asthma and allergic diseases, including biogenic allergens, as well as lifestyle-related, man-made chemicals. This makes examination of risks posed by a single or multiple compounds difficult. This study will examine the indoor temporal variability in the concentration of PGEs and routes of human exposure to PGEs, as well as their correlation with other man-made and biogenic risk factors.


This study will determine the sources and the correlates of indoor PGEs in a pilot cohort of 80 pregnant women from the Albany metropolitan area. An in-depth exposure assessment of PGEs will be conducted in this cohort through repeated personal and indoor air monitoring during their entire gestational period. In addition, this investigation will examine whether other indoor environmental risk factors are correlated with PGE concentrations. Potential sources of PGE exposure will be characterized by an inspection of participants’ homes, as well as interviews about behavior and lifestyle factors, such as frequency of cleaning, or history of home remodeling. Personal and home indoor exposure levels will be quantified using validated active and passive air monitoring, ranging from a 48-hour to a 30-day period during each trimester.

Expected Results:

This study will determine the potential human exposure, the sources and the life-course of PGEs and other indoor air pollutants through a combination of repeated and direct personal and indoor monitoring. Specifically, this study is expected to identify major sources of PGEs, possibly including recently painted surfaces and new synthetic surface coatings, as well as frequent use of water-based cleaning products. Additionally, dampness and low air exchange rates in homes might contribute to the life-course of PGEs in indoor air, thereby modifying the human exposure potential. This comprehensive exposure assessment of PGEs in the home environment is expected to elucidate the sources and correlates of PGEs in the home.

Potential to Further Environmental/Human Health Protection

Reducing or eliminating hazardous chemical exposures is an important facet of sustainable chemical use. For this to occur, relevant exposure pathways first must be recognized through laboratory and epidemiologic research. This study seeks to characterize the home indoor factors that contribute to PGE exposure. The results will lay the groundwork for further studies on the early-life risks from exposure to PGEs and dampness on asthma and multiple-allergic disease development.

Supplemental Keywords:

exposure assessment, asthma, propylene glycol ether

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 2013
  • Final