Propylene glycol: is it really safe?
The use of industrial chemicals in cosmetics and drugs is a cheap way for companies to improve their products’ appearance, and to maximize their efficacy and shelf life. Propylene glycol is one of those chemicals. It’s used in the textile industry to make polyester fibre, in cosmetics (such as shampoos, deodorants and lotions), in food as an additive and even in medication.
Fortunately, its widespread use doesn’t threaten our health and has been deemed safe by the FDA . But, under certain circumstances, it may cause light irritation if used in large quantities over a short period of time. Those with pre-existing skin, eye or allergic conditions may experience slight discomfort. Such cases are fairly uncommon and occur mostly in newborns, infants and the elderly.
Propylene glycol does, however, pose a danger to our environment. It absorbs water and requires high levels of oxygen to dissolve . The oxygen on water surfaces is essential for the survival of aquatic organisms, so the introduction of propylene glycol into the environment can negatively impact the ecosystem. Unfortunately, since propylene glycol isn’t listed as a pollutant by the National Pollutant Release Inventory of Canada or the U.S. Toxic Release Inventory, little data exists on the release of the chemical in our waters.
Living propylene glycol-free
Even though propylene glycol doesn’t pose a threat to our health, it’s important to treat our environment with care. Many shampoos, deodorants and lotions don’t contain this chemical and provide us with the same benefits while keeping our environment clean. Since the accumulation of propylene glycol in our water and soil can negatively impact our environment.
Alain Ménard, microbiologist, co-founded The Green Beaver Company with biochemist Karen Clark. They were both appalled by the amount of chemicals found in kid’s shampoos, bubble baths and other products. With their new family in mind, they decided to do something about it. They left the pharmaceutical and pesticide industry behind to create healthier natural products. Alain regularly gives seminars on the potential health risks and environmental hazards associated with the chemicals found in everyday personal care products.