Toxic Ingredient Spotlight- Propolyene Glycol


No doubt you have heard all the hype about toxic ingredients in many of our personal care and household products and one of those offenders being propylene glycol. It’s frequented many ‘to avoid’ lists and been touted as a carcinogenic, but do you even know what it is?

I never until I wrote this blog post. So, here’s what I found.

What Is Propylene Glycol?

Propylene glycol is a synthetic liquid substance that absorbs water and is used by the chemical, food, and pharmaceutical industries as an antifreeze which is an additive that lowers the freezing point of a water-based liquid and increases its boiling point. it is commonly used to absorb extra water and maintain moisture in certain medicines, cosmetics, or dog and human food products and is categorized by the FDA as a GRAS (generally recognized as safe) substance for this use. (1,2)

Sounds ominous, doesn’t it.

According to Dr Axe, propylene glycol is an additive that is literally found in thousands of products that we either consume, put on our body or come in contact with on a fairly regular basis and some people claim it to be utterly harmless while others speak as if it’s responsible for devastating diseases like cancer. (4)

Interestingly enough though, The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has classified propylene glycol as an additive that is "generally recognized as safe" for use in food. The opperative word here being ‘generally’. Like so many things there is always the exception to the rule.


Here’s some more interesting facts about propylene glycol-

  • It is used to absorb extra water and maintain moisture in certain medicines, cosmetics, or food products.

  • It is a solvent for food colors and flavors, and in the paint and plastics industries.

  • Propylene glycol is also used to create artificial smoke or fog used in fire-fighting training and in theatrical productions.

As a side note, the FDA has indicated that even though the amounts of propylene glycol are safe for human consumption, prolonged exposure to the skin may cause irritation.

Hmmm. Makes you wonder what the side effects of using products with propylene glycol can have on the human body when used daily for 10, 20, 30 years?

Possible Effects of Propylene Glycol

According to Dr Mercola, some potential health effects of propylene glycol include:

  • skin and eye irritation,

  • Respiratory and gastrointestinal tract irritation,

  • Behavior/central nervous system symptoms (depression, convulsions, seizures, stupor, muscle contractions, coma).

Studies have shown that propylene glycol may also interfere with brain activity, metabolism, white blood cells, respiration, cardiovascular function, the endocrine system, the kidneys, and the liver. (3)

Apparently Propylene glycol breaks down in the body in about 48 hours. However, studies of people and animals show that if you have repeated eye, skin, nasal, or oral exposures to propylene glycol for a short time, you may develop some irritation. (1,3)

According to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, propylene glycol has been approved for use at certain levels in food, cosmetics, and pharmaceutical products. If you eat food products, use cosmetics, or take medicines that contain it, you will be exposed to propylene glycol, but , according to the FDA, these amounts are not generally considered harmful. (1)

How To Avoid Propylene Glycol

Now, hearing that the FDA has declared it safe to use maybe all you need to hear and go on your merry way continuing to use mainstream products.

However, if you are the type who insists on avoiding as many questionable ingredients as possible and especially ones that are used in industrial cleaners, solvents and as antifreeze, then you won’t be able to rest until you have made some necessary changes and rid your home of many controversial toxic products.

So, in this case, by all means change your products, especially if it means you can sleep better at night knowing your home and family are that little bit safer.

  • Read Food Labels- whenever you purchase packaged food of any form be aware that there will usually be some form of preservative to enable the food item to be packaged and stored for certain periods of time. The good thing about this is that ingredients- as well as additives are recorded on the package. propylene glycol may also be listed on labels as “propane-1,2-diol” or E1520. Be on the look out for it. (4)

  • Purchase cosmetics, cleaning and household products that are free of toxic chemicals and preservatives. Today, there are more and more companies appearing that cater to the non-toxic chemical arena. A good place to look is The Environmental Working Group ( Their mission is to empower people to live healthier lives in a healthier environment. With breakthrough research and education, they drive consumer choice and civic action. (5)

  • Avoid Processed foods likely to contain propylene Glycol such as:

    • salad dressing

    • margarine

    • box cake mix

    • soda

    • frozen desserts

    • dog and cat food

A Solution

Not sure where to start to look for products that avoid these questionable ingredients?

One such company is the Live Clean Company- MODERE.

Modere hold themselves to a higher standard. For more than 25 years, their products have been the first choice by customers around the world. Proven, trusted, original formulas delivered to market and anchored by a simple philosophy – if it doesn’t meet their standards of safety, it will never be part of their mix.

Modere prides themselves on avoiding over 3000+ toxic chemicals. So, if you're looking for safe, non-toxic personal care, household products, cosmetics and even nutritionals, check them out, compare them and see if what they say lives up to your standard.

You only have your health and that of your family's at stake.  


  1. Agency For Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, 1997, Toxic Substance Portal- Propylene Glycol.

  2. Dr Mercola, Antifreeze-LikeIngredient Found In Pets Treats, 2016.

  3. Dr Mercola, Dangerous Cosmetics Causing Major Harm To Skin, 2017.

  4. Dr Axe, 2016, Proplyene Glycol: The Complicated Additive With Potentially Dangerous Side Effects.

  5. The Environmental Working Group, Know Your Environment Protect Your Health.