Monday, May 03, 2004

Parabens and propylene glycol. Do you want to see these chemicals in your natural body care products? Read the data below to help you decide whether you want to use these ingredients or dump them down the drain into our drinking water.

Parabens penetrate the skin and can be found in cancerous breast tumours. Is using a product with these chemicals in it worth the risk to you? Read about the latest study... here...

The EPA report "Pharmaceuticals and Personal Care Products in the Environment: Agents of Subtle Change" states that parabens produced estrogenic activity in several assays. The report also says that "(personal care products) aquatic pollution is particularly troublesome because aquatic organisms (fish, frogs, turtles, manatees, etc.) are captive to continual life-cycle exposure...effects could accumulate so slowly that major change goes undetected until the cumulative level of these effects finally cascades to irreversible change."

Additionally, the report declares "The literature shows, however, that many of these compounds survive biodegradation. Many of these personal care products and their metabolites are ubiquitous and display persistence in, and bioconcentration from, surface waters on par with those of the widely recognized organochlorine pollutants."

This is the link to the EPA report (above).

Propylene glycol is a highly controversial chemical. What's the truth about propylene glycol? We've gathered some facts from reputable sources so that you can read scientific data instead of a manufacturer's hype and make an educated decision about whether you really want to rub this chemical into your body. First, you should know that the US government's Environmental Protection Agency has stated that "This substance/agent (propylene glycol) has not undergone a complete evaluation and determination under US EPA's IRIS program for evidence of human carcinogenic potential."

This chemical is definitely NOT an environmentally-friendly, sustainable material. Very energy-intensive in its use of fossil fuels--a big source of pollution, harmful to the planet and humans in its manufacture. Read the process for yourself to determine if you think this is something natural that you can make in your home kitchen or in your favorite restaurant. To get you started, here's an excerpt from a USDA National Organic Program material review report that discusses the complex, industrial process to make this chemical:

"Glycols from Sugar? Reactor Data Sorbitol can be cracked in the presence of hydrogen to yield a variety of different oxygenated products including ethylene glycol, propylene glycol, glycerol, and lactic acid. Also produced are various alcohols, C4/C5/C6 diols, and triols. The reaction is catalyzed by a RUTHENIUM catalyst at a pressure in excess of 1500 psig and at temperatures in the 400-500?F range. Selectivity and conversion data as well as reactor sizing information is provided in the attached patent (US 5403805, April 4, 1995, Ruthenium-Based Catalyst for Producing Lower Polyhydric Alcohols). The sorbitol must be diluted to a 40 wt% solution. The reaction requires a basic environment and caustic (NaOH) must be added to a 1:3 molar ratio with the sorbitol. Excess hydrogen (most frequently derived from petrochemical hydrocarbons or methanol) is required at a level of 20% above that needed for the reaction. The expected catalyst run length is one year before the catalyst must be regenerated by burning off coke formed during the reaction. The catalyst must be replaced every three years. '

"Purification Section Data There are three key purification issues for this project: 1. Removal of the Sodium required for the reactor. Usually, getting the sodium out as soon as practical is suggested, since sodium can cause fouling (salting) problems in downstream equipment. 2. Energy efficient removal of the water in the sorbitol feed." Cameron, D.C. "Microbial Catalysis for the Conversion of Sugars and Other Renewable Materials to Propanediols." University of Wisconsin-Madison. 1995."

To read the complete report go here...

Ruthenium catalyst? Go to this link to read an interesting history about ruthenium and about the complex chemical process used to isolate this toxic metal...

Ruthenium IS toxic. Read this report from the Netherlands...

Getting back on track with propylene glycol, here are many other tidbits about propylene glycol from various internet sources:

Propylene glycol is used in antifreeze and de-icing solutions. It is used as a solvent in the paint and plastics industries, and to make polyester compounds. It is used as a substitute for ethylene glycol mono-alkyl ethers in all-purpose cleaners, coatings, inks, nail polish, lacquers, latex paints, and adhesives. It is also used to create artificial smoke or fog used in fire-fighting training and in theatrical productions.

Propylene glycol 8/12/2002 and polyethylene glycol 400 (PEG 400) have been shown to differ in their potential to cause muscle damage following I.V. injection. In previous studies, propylene glycol was found to be more myotoxic than PEG 400, with cytosoliccalcium playing a role in mediating this damage.

CODE OF FEDERAL REGULATIONS - Propylene glycol. (a) Propylene glycol (C3H8O2, CAS Reg. No. 57-55-6) is known as 1,2-propanediol. It does not occur in nature. Propylene glycol is manufactured by treating propylene with chlorinated water to form the chlorohydrin which is converted to the glycol by treatment with sodium carbonate solution. It is also prepared by heating glyercol with sodium hydroxide.

National Organic Standards Board Ontario, CA March 16-20, 1998

Areas in Proposed Rule that need modification and/or clarification from USDA 205.16 (a)(2)(iii) Product Composition "A non-organically produced agricultural product or a non-agricultural ingredient included on the National List that is extracted without the use of a synthetic volatile solvent or which does not contain propylene glycol as a carrier, if commercially available, shall be selected in preference to a product or ingredient that is extracted with a synthetic volatile solvent or which contains propylene glycol as a carrier." *Committee recommendation: Delete. Organically produced alternatives which do not use propylene glycol or hexane extracted solvents are commercially available.

Follow NOSB recommendations concerning the use of natural flavors and oil extraction which do not allow propylene glycol or hexane extraction.

The health effects data for propylene glycol were reviewed by the U.S. EPA RfD/RfC Work Group and determined to be inadequate for the derivation of an inhalation RfC. "The verification status of this chemical is currently not verifiable. This substance/ agent has not undergone a complete evaluation and determination under US EPA's IRIS program for evidence of human carcinogenic potential."

Status Among U.S. Certifiers State Organic Certifiers:
Minnesota--Follows USDA suggested guidelines.
Ohio-- Propylene glycol may not be used in organic crops, livestock, or processing, since it is not specifically mentioned in the National List as an allowable synthetic substance.

International IFOAM: In the 2000 final organic rule and in the 2002 final draft, there is no specific mention of propylene glycol as permissible.

CFNP TAP Review Propylene glycol 8/12/2002
It quotes a review by the American Academy of Dermatologists Inc. [January 1991], which stated that propylene glycol causes a significant number of reactions and was a primary irritant to the skin even in low concentrations. "It has been shown that propylene glycol: - has severe adverse health effects and has been found to cause contact dermatitis, kidney damage, and liver abnormalities - inhibits skin growth in human tests - damages cell membranes causing skin rashes, dry skin, and surface damage."

CFNP TAP Review Propylene glycol 8/12/2002 "Manufacturing propylene glycol from propylene, a petrochemical feedstock, presents environmental concerns."