Thursday, October 4, 2012

Toxin Free Oven Cleaners Part 3: Monoethanolamine (MEA)

Oven Cleaner Ingredients List
Here's part 3 of my investigative reporting on oven cleaners. This time the suspect in questions is the 2nd most common ingredient, Monoethanolamine, or MEA.

Or any of the other names it goes by. There's a list of the other names at the end of this blog post. I'm starting to wonder if the really bad chemicals are the ones with the most aliases! This one has quite a few names. No small wonder it's hard to green your house with multiple names for the dangers that lurk in small bottles.

Monoethanolamine, or Ethanolamine as it is also commonly called, is a "toxic, flammable, corrosive, colorless, viscous liquid with an odor similar to that of ammonia." Nice. Once I figured out the various names, I was able to find a site that gave me a listing of the various reactions to this wonderful little toxic cleaning chemical. Here's a preview of the dangers you might get saddled with by inviting this chemical into your home, or, God forbid, into your oven: 

"...increased blood pressure, diuresis, salivation, and pupillary dilation. Large doses produce sedation, coma, and death following depression of blood pressure and cardiac collapse."
Snyder, R. (ed.). Ethyl Browning's Toxicity and Metabolism of Industrial Solvents. 2nd ed. Volume II: Nitrogen and Phosphorus Solvents. Amsterdam-New York-Oxford: Elsevier, 1990., p. 428
"MEA inhalation by humans has been reported to cause immediate allergic responses of dyspnea and asthma and clinical symptoms of acute liver damage and chronic hepatitis."
Christian M, ed; J American College of Toxicology 2 (7): 183-226 (1983) 
"Corrosive. Causes severe eye and skin burns. May be harmful if absorbed through skin or inhaled. Irritating to skin, eyes, respiratory system."
[Fire Protection Guide to Hazardous Materials. 13 ed. Quincy, MA: National Fire Protection Association, 2002., p. 49-70 
So...I'm not going to recommend pasting the inside of your oven with this chemical. How is it that my own house practically becomes a global environment issue and all I'm trying to do is get it clean. I think I'm going to have to add ecological sustainability to my list of "must haves" for my toxin free cleaning requirements.

Probably you don't enjoy reading chemical names any more than I do, but for safety's sake, here's the other names (minus a few in German and French) so you can compare product labels as needed. I even alphabetized if for you!:
Ethanolamine/Monoethanolamine Synonyms List
Ethane, 1-amino-2-hydroxy-
Ethanol, 2-amino-

Maybe what we need is an iPhone application that scans barcodes and tells you what's really in the product that's dangerous, in terms we can all understand. Anyone know of one?

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