Propylene Glycol - harmful or not?
This ingredient is found in low concentration in our Body Balms. PG is a humectant, meaning it attracts moisture from the surrounding environment. Thus, when found in cosmetics it functions as a moisturizer and allows other active ingredients in the formulation to penetrate the skin. PG is found in nearly all of your bathroom products from shampoo to baby wipes to teeth whitening products. However, many of the products containing PG have a low hazard rating from Skin Deep, a website that scores beauty products on their toxicity levels.
PG is also found in drinks and food that you consume everyday, such as coffee sweeteners, ice cream, and whipped cream. Because of it's water-attracting properties, it is also found in OTC and prescription medications when active ingredients are not easily absorbed into the body. Anti-anxiety medications like lorazepam (Ativan) and artificial tears like Systane also contain PG. It is also found in medications for ruminant animals, those who chew their cud, for the purpose of stabilizing certain metabolic disorders.
According to my research, there is some indication that PG can be harmful to organisms under certain circumstances. It can be an irritant to the eyes and lungs, but this would only be a concern under high exposure circumstances (such as working in a facility that produced PG). Overall, websites discussing the potential toxicity of PG state that limited exposure, such as using cosmetics with PG, is not harmful to humans. For individuals with serious immune disorders or allergies, PG may be something to avoid; but these individual unfortunately are probably avoiding many other ingredients anyway.
While PG may cause irritation under unique circumstances, it is not likely to harm the vast majority of individuals. It is present in so many products that, should you be concerned about PG exposure, you would have to toss out most if not all of your bathroom products, and perhaps some medications. Bottom line, don't work in a facility that produces PG and you should be fine.