Phenoxyethanol – Should Increased Use Concern Us?
Phenoxyethanol is typically one of the undisclosed ingredients in many products containing “fragrance.” However, it may also be used as a preservative and there has been a recent upsurge in the frequency with which formulators are using it for this purpose. The public became aware of it when the FDA recently issued a warning concerning its use in a cream (Mommy Bliss) for nursing mothers. Their warning concerned the potential of Phenoxyethanol to cause vomiting, contact dermatitis and even to shut down the central nervous sytem.
This chemical is an aromatic glycol ether. It begins as phenol, which is a toxic powder created from benzene and treated with ethylene oxide and an alkalai. Both benzene and ethylene oxide are known carcinogens. Glycols are a family of chemicals that are frequently found in paint, lacquer, and even airplane fuel.
It is restricted for use in Japan, it has been linked to central nervous depression, eye and lung irritation. It is important to note that many of these reactions occured at moderate and even low doses. The EPA has issued data sheets demonstrating chromosomal changes and genetic metation effect, along with reproductive interference. Of more than 3000 allergens recently evaluated, Phenoxyethanol was ranked among the top 10 most likely chemicals to create allergic reactions in users.
The frustrating truth is that manufacturers are making the switch to Phenoxyethanol to steer away from parabens and formaldehyde donors. Unfortunately, they are causing their customers to do little more than exchange one set of serious concerns for a new set entirely. Phenoxyethanol should be avoided when at all possible.
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