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In recent years there has been considerable concern and controversy regarding both the toxicity and disposal of engine coolants. The toxicity of engine coolant relative to human or animal ingestion is largely a function of whether ethylene or propylene glycol is used to provide freeze point depression. The additives used in engine coolants to prevent cooling system deterioration have a measurable, but limited effect on toxicity. The general environmental effects are largely governed by the type of glycol as well as the contaminants that may be present in the coolant.
This paper presents a literature survey on the environmental, disposal, and toxicity issues surrounding engine coolants. In addition, an Acute Lethal Dose (LD50) study is presented comparing the LD50 of fully formulated PG antifreeze and supplemental coolant additives. A review of government laws and regulations covering disposal and management of waste coolant is also provided.
engine coolants, engine antifreeze, coolant toxicity, disposal, biodegradability, laws and regulations, recycling, environmental concerns
Senior staff chemist, Fleetguard, Inc., Cookeville, TN
Professor and chairman, Tennessee Technological University, Cookeville, TN