Nasty chemical of the month: Polyethylene glycols

Disclaimer: This post is contributed by Planning With Kids partner ecostore.



This post first appeared on the ecostore blog.

Polyethylene glycols (PEGs) are found in a range of commonly-used products like makeup, skincreams, sunscreen lotion, toothpaste, baby products and flowing hand soap.

These chemicals can be used as surfactants, which let detergents spread and wet, allows dyes to get into material and helps perfumes and toothpaste disperse evenly. They’re also used to condition skin and act as emulsifiers.

We choose to avoid PEGs because they have links to a number of health concerns.

Among these are potential eye and skin irritation. In addition, a safety assessment on alkyl PEGs used in cosmetics labelled the starting materials used to make PEGs as carcinogenic, and there is a possibility that raw PEGs are contaminated with 1,4-dioxane, another potential carcinogen.

Instead of PEGs, ecostore uses plant-based surfactants, conditioning and emulsifying agents that are not associated with 1, 4-dioxane contamination. When it comes to organ system toxicity, the Environment Canada Domestic Sustance List expects PEGs to be toxic or harmful and ranks them a medium level priority for human health.

If you want to avoid polyethylene glycols, look for PEG at the start of ingredients on the label – that’s usually followed by a number. You can find out more about PEGs, other ingredients we leave out of our products, and those we do include, here.