The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development uses ethylene glycol (EG) as a deicing agent on bridges. This study was undertaken to assess the impact of EG on workers and the environment after spraying. The objectives of the project were to: (1) determine the level of exposure of workers spraying EG on bridges; (2) monitor the level of EG in the atmosphere above sprayed bridges; (3) determine the aqueous concentrations of EG due to runoff of the chemical from sprayed bridges to the aquatic environment; and (4) determine the effect of EG in the aquatic environment including sorption capacity to soil, acute toxicity to bluegill sunfish, crawfish, and microorganisms, bioaccumulation in crawfish, and biodegradation by soil microorganisms. Some conclusions include: (1) Air samples collected above sprayed bridges contained far less EG than the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists' recommended values; (2) EG concentrations in sediment and water collected from areas under sprayed bridges were below detection limits. EG did not adsorb to soils in laboratory sorption studies; (3) Common soil microorganisms readily degraded EG; (4) Acute toxicity values for crawfish, bluegill sunfish and soil microorganisms were far above the expected environmental concentration resulting from normal applications; (5) In a bioaccumulation study, crawfish did not concentrate EG to levels above the water concentration. The amount of EG taken up in crawfish edible tissues does not pose acute health effects to humans; and (6) In a depuration study crawfish were able to completely eliminate the accumulated EG within 5 to 6 days. Recommendations: (1) Care should be taken in handling EG. For example, (a) all applicators should stay inside the cab of the spray rig and windows should be kept closed, (b) gloves should be worn during handling of EG, (c) one should stand upwind of the prevailing wind direction when mixing EG to avoid aerosol inhalation, and (d) spills and direct application of EG to water should be avoided. (2) Acute studies on juvenile crawfish and other aquatic species could be done to determine potential acute effects on more sensitive stages of the organisms.

  • Corporate Authors:

    Tulane University

    School of Public Health & Tropical Medicine, 1430 Tulane Ave
    New Orleans, LA  United States  70112

    Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development

    1201 Capitol Access Road, P.O. Box 94245
    Baton Rouge, LA  United States  70804-9245

    Federal Highway Administration

    1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
    Washington, DC  United States  20590
  • Authors:
    • Abdelghani, A A
    • Anderson, A C
    • KHOURY, G A
    • Chang, S N
  • Publication Date: 1990-1

Media Info

  • Features: Appendices; Figures; References; Tables;
  • Pagination: 120 p.

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 00496592
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Report/Paper Numbers: FHWA/LA-90/228
  • Contract Numbers: No. 87 - 1M(B)
  • Created Date: Aug 31 1990 12:00AM