Adverse Effects of Propylene Glycol

Propylene glycol, also referred to as 1, 2-propanediol or propane-1, 2-diol, has a formula of C₃H₈O₂. It is an inorganic compound that is colourless, odourless, and clear. Found in the form of a viscous liquid with a faint sweet taste, it can easily mix with water, acetone and chloroform. It can be produced from propylene oxide and is used to produce unsaturated polyester resin. This compound is widely used in daily used products like cosmetics and toiletries, certain foods, animal feed, and also in some pharmaceutical products. It is also being used in a number of industrial applications nowadays.

Though this organic compound is a non-toxic alcohol, it can cause hazards if consumed in large quantities in a short period of time. Excessive consumption can cause gastric pain, nausea, and vomiting. If such symptoms are seen in a person, it is better to take the person to a doctor rather than let him/her vomit to get the poison out. Propylene glycol may also cause breathing difficulty.

Propylene glycol

Since this compound’s boiling point is 107⁰C, it changes from liquid to gas at that temperature. If this conversion takes place in a well-ventilated room, there is no problem. However, if there are people present in a closed room and this conversion takes place at that time, people may experience difficulty in breathing. It is advisable to shift people from such situations and take them to a place where there is plenty of air. It can also help to give an oxygen mask to the victim to ease the laboured breathing.

This compound can also cause skin rashes in people who are allergic to it or if this liquid spills in a large quantity on the skin. Anti-allergic creams can provide relief in such cases. Some people have also been detected of eye irritation, if exposed to this viscous liquid. Some people have also suffered from tearing and transient conjunctivitis. Splashing water provides relief and as a last resort, a doctor’s advice can definitely help. Since this compound catches fire at high temperature, it is necessary to keep extinguishers around. But the major disadvantage of this compound is that it can have a severe effect of the central nervous system, if one is exposed to it for a long time.

Though propylene glycol is used extensively in industrial work, its adverse effects cannot be ignored.

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