Monitor ethanolamines in the environment

To accurately measure ethanolamines in environmental samples such as water and soil, you need the high sensitivity of a liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) system in your toolbox.

Ethanolamines are a family of bifunctional chemicals that combine a primary amine and primary alcohol. The hydrophilic nature of these chemicals has led to their wide use in the chemical industry as emulsifying agents in cosmetics and personal care products, surfactants for soaps and detergents, corrosion inhibitors, acid gas purification and the manufacture of pesticides. Common examples include monoethanolamine (MEA), diethanolamine (DEA), triethanolamine (TEA) and N-nitrosodiethanolamine (NDEA).

The global consumption of ethanolamines is expected to grow 2.5% annually between 2019 and 2024, driven by developing markets in Asia, China in particular.1 Although exposure studies are still limited, research shows that MEA and DEA may cause occupational asthma.2-4 Moreover, after extended storage, DEA in products such as cosmetics can react with other ingredients in the formulation to form NDEA, which could potentially cause stomach, esophagus, liver and bladder cancer.5 For this reason, the European Commission has completely prohibited the use of DEA in cosmetics.5

Finding the means to monitor, characterize and quantify these chemicals is essential.

Determine ethanolamines by LC-MS/MS

The challenge in detecting ethanolamines in various matrices is that they are present at very low quantities. To identify these low-level compounds, environmental scientists need a sensitive and specific method. LC-MS/MS systems can enable you to:

  • Reduce sample preparation and run time
  • Screen for more contaminants in each analysis, without compromising data quality for higher throughput
  • Achieve detection levels in the parts-per-million range, with the ability to go as low as several parts per billion
  • Generate consistent results every day, giving you a high degree of repeatability and reproducibility even from complex mixtures


  1. IHS Markit. (2020). Chemical Economics Handbook – Ethanolamines. IHS Markit, 2020.
  2. Kamijo, Y.,; Hayashi, I.,; Ide, A.,; Yoshimura, K.,; Soma, K.,; & Majima, M. (2009). Effects of inhaled monoethanolamine on bronchoconstriction. Journal of Applied Toxicology 2009, 29(1), 15-–19. doi: 10.1002/jat.1373
  3. Savonius, B.;, Keskinen, H.,; Tuppurainen, M.,; & Kanerva, L. (1994). Occupational asthma caused by ethanolamines. Allergy 1994, 49(10), 877-–881. doi: 10.1111/j.1398-9995.1994.tb00791.x
  4. Dodson, R. E.,; Nishioka, M.,; Standley, L. J.,; Perovich, L. J.,; Brody, J. G., & Rudel, R. A. (2012). Endocrine Disruptors and Asthma-Associated Chemicals in Consumer Products. Environmental Health Perspectives 2012, 120(7), 935-–943. doi: 10.1289/ehp.1104052
  5. Shin, K., & Lee, Y. (2015). Simultaneous analysis of mono-, di-, and tri-ethanolamine in cosmetic products using liquid chromatography coupled tandem mass spectrometry. Archives of Pharmacal Research 2015, 39(1), 66-–72. doi: 10.1007/s12272-015-0677-5
  6. EU Official Document SPC/019/92 on Nnitrosamines in cosmetics

X500R QTOF System

This easy-to-use accurate mass spectrometer system analyzes data faster using the power of SWATH® Acquisition.

SCIEX OS Software

This all-in-one software lets you acquire, process and analyze data, and even generate reports.

QTRAP® systems

Use the MRM sensitivity of a triple quadrupole system to get even better identification and quantification.

ExionLC™ AC System

Build on the modular design of this system to expand your laboratory's range of applications and analyses.


Learning Center  
iMethod™ test for ethanolamines version 1.0 for Cliquid® Software Download