May be labeled as MEA, aminoethanol, colamine, ethanolamine, glyconol, olamine, and at least 11 other trade names. It may also be listed in conjunction with other names such as cocomide DEA or MEA. MEAis used to form salts, soaps and esters (i.e. artificial flavorings and fragrances). It is found in health and beauty and household products. It is known to be in at least 50 household cleaners used for tile and grout, floors, stainless steel, degreasers and detergents.

According to DOW Chemical, MEA can cause burns to the eyes and skin. It is harmful and corrosive if ingested or absorbed through skin. It can cause lung damage if inhaled. Long term exposure may cause lung, liver and kidney damage or cancer. A recent FDA study also indicated a significantly increased risk for children.

Laboratory animals tested resulted in possible damage to the nervous system. These tests also showed the animals given higher doses and subject to repeated exposure resulted in increased fetal deaths, malformations and growth retardation.