A – Z of Toxicity in our home – PEG compounds

  • Polyethylene glycol is a family of petroleum compounds widely used in cosmetics as thickeners, moisture-carriers, solvents and softeners.
  • As a penetration enhancer, it allows other harmful compounds often found in PEGs to be absorbed by our skin.
  • This includes 1,4-dioxane which is a known carcinogen, as well as heavy metals such as lead, cobalt, iron, arsenic and cadmium.
  • PEGs are followed by a number correlating to the number of ethylene glycol units in it, as well as its absorbency rate.
  • The lower the number the higher its ability to be absorbed by our skin.
  • Problems associated with it:
    • Systemic toxicity and if used on broken skin it can cause irritation
  • Found in:
    • Cosmetics as cream bases

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