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Toxic Chemical Glossary:
What is Propylene Glycol: Chemical Free Living

What is propylene glycol?

Propylene glycol is a synthetic, clear, colorless and odorless liquid substance that’s commonly used as a skin conditioning agent. It is also used as an ingredient in fragrances, a humectant in certain medications, cosmetics, and foods, and as a viscosity decreasing agent [1] [3].

What products is propylene glycol in?

Propylene glycol is found in cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, and food products in small amounts [3] as well as in detergents and baby products [2].

How to tell if a product has propylene glycol

Propylene may be listed as 1,2-dihydroxypropane, 1,2-propanediol, 2-hydroxypropanol, methylethyl glycol, proane-1,2-diol, 1,2-dihydroxypropane, 1,2-propylene glycol, alpha-propyleneglycol, dowfrost, or methylethylene glycol [1].

Risks associated with propylene glycol

This chemical is associated with skin irritation, eye and lung irritation with frequent or prolonged contact and organ system toxicity. [1] [3]

How to avoid propylene glycol

Read ingredient labels and always avoid products that contain propylene glycol or any of its synonyms like 1,2-dihydroxypropane, 1,2-propanediol, 2-hydroxypropanol, methylethyl glycol, proane-1,2-diol, 1,2-dihydroxypropane, 1,2-propylene glycol, alpha-propyleneglycol, dowfrost, or methylethylene glycol [1].  In personal care products, do your own research on a product’s ingredients by using a resource such as the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep product database.

References:

[1] EWG’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database (2007-2016). Propylene Glycol Available online: https://www.ewg.org/skindeep/ingredient/705315/PROPYLENE_GLYCOL/ December 7, 2016.

[2] Leavitt, J. (2015). Guest Blog Post for Healthy Child Healthy World: Baby Care Products: Always Read the Label. Available online: http://www.biconi.com/guest-blog-post-for-healthy-child-healthy-world-baby-care-products-always-read-the-label/ December 7, 2016.

[3] Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (1997). Public Health Statement for Propylene Glycol. Available online: https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/PHS/PHS.asp?id=1120&tid=240 December 7, 2016.

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