ECH: A Potential Carcinogen

Published Date : Apr 01, 2016

Chemically, epichlorohydrin (ECH) contains both chlorine and epoxy elements. Due to the presence of strong epoxy bond and the chiral nature of the compound, ECH is moderately soluble in water. It is extensively used in the manufacturing of plastics, elastomers, glycerols, and epoxy resins and glues. The substantial increase in the demand for epoxy resins across various industries is expected to drive the demand from the global ECH market. The high demand for synthetic glycerine due to its increasing applications will further augment the market growth. However, the concerns regarding the harmful effects of ECH on human health and environment will negatively impact the growth of the market in the coming years. The overall market has a huge opportunity to grow with the growing production of bio-based ECH.

How Harmful is ECH?

Epichlorohydrin is quite harmful for humans. It is found across many products used on day-to-day basis. For example, the paper tea bags are treated with epichlorohydrin. The compound has been termed as a potential carcinogen by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. When ECH comes in contact with water, it is broken down into 3-MCPD that has been linked to cancer among animals, impaired immune function, and infertility in male rats. 

Yet, the demand for ECH has surged in the recent years. In 2014, the paints and coatings industry dominated the overall ECH market and is expected to continue as the leading end-user segment. The rapid growth of this segment can be attributed to the growing demand from the automobile and construction industries. The water treatment segment was the fastest expanding segment in the market in 2014 while the electronics and electrical sector accounted for around one-third of the overall market in terms of revenue.