Monday, May 20, 2013

Danger Of Breathing in Propylene Glycol

Propylene glycol (PG), is a colorless, odorless chemical that is used as a food additive, in cosmetics and in pharmaceuticals as an inert solvent or carrier. Its industrial applications include antifreezes, hydraulic fluids, deicing liquids and coolants. PG is recognized as safe by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Material Data Safety Sheet (MSDS)

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires all companies that manufacture chemicals or solvents to provide a Material Data Safety Sheet (MSDS), listing the properties of the substance. MSDS information includes handle the material safely and it must list all hazards associated with the compound as well.

The MSDS for PG lists it as hygroscopic, meaning it has the ability to easily retain moisture. It is classified as a stable substance under normal temperatures. Under the potential health effects, if inhaled, the MSDS states, "Low hazard for usual industrial handling and may cause mild respiratory tract irritation."

Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry (ATSDR)

The ATSDR states on its website, "In contrast to ethylene glycol, a potent cause of acute toxicity in humans, propylene glycol is a 'Generally Recognized as Safe' (GRAS) additive for foods and medications."

Medical Uses

PG has been used as the aqueous-based chemical additive in asthma inhalers and nebulizers since the 1950s, with no serious side effects known. PG, because of its water-retaining properties, is the compound of choice for delivering atomized medication. It is also a common diluent for injectable medications, constituting 40 percent of the intravenous form of Phenytoin, an anti-seizure drug.

Electronic Cigarettes

Persons trying to quit smoking have recently turned to the recent invention of electronic cigarettes. Battery-powered, these devices deliver measured amounts of nicotine diluted in PG and then inhaled. A heating element within the device vaporizes the compounds, thereby allowing for easy inhalation. While many have questioned the safety of electronic cigarettes, their concerns are directed toward the inconsistent amounts of nicotine, not the PG solution in which it is delivered.

Food and Drug Administration (FDA)

The FDA includes Propylene glycol on its list of substances Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS), and it meets the requirements of acceptable compounds within Title 21 of the Code of Federal Regulations. Considering PG has been widely used for many years without serious side effects, the substance can reasonably said to be of negligible concern.

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