Although propylene glycol, a synthetic substance, has been prohibited in Europe, it is still widely used in the United States. In this way, European drug laws stand in stark contrast to their American counterparts. There is a lack of regulation and funding for study into many harmful substances in the United States.
What is propylene glycol?
Propylene glycol, a manufactured substance used in the production of textile products, is described by the National Library of Medicine. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has deemed it “generally recognized as safe” for use in food because of its prevalence in the chemistry, culinary, and medicinal sectors.
It is commonly used in the makeup, medicines, and culinary industries due to its ability to capture water and keep wetness.
What are the risks associated with propylene glycol?
According to a 2012 toxicity research, propylene glycol can cause a variety of allergic reactions, including skin and ocular discomfort. Given that some individuals acquire sensitivities to drugs while others can handle them just fine, this isn’t necessarily reason for concern.
Worryingly, propylene glycol has been linked to neurological problems and even tumors. Excessive apoptosis, or cell death, was linked to propylene glycol in a study performed on rodents by researchers at Washington University in St. Louis.
While the study’s findings are concerning, it cannot definitively state that propylene glycol was the primary factor in the observed cell mortality, and since the research was performed on rodents, the results cannot be extrapolated to people.
Propylene glycol has been “generally recognized” as safe by the FDA, but the European Union (EU) has banned it due to its harmful side effects in high doses, such as the one experienced by this man who became depressed due to drinking too much whiskey containing propylene glycol.
However, the U.S. lacks the European Union’s (EU) stringent restrictions on chemicals, and propylene glycol is just one example.
Why is propylene glycol banned in Europe?
Regarding chemical prohibitions, the European Union (EU) is years ahead of the United States. The European Union has prohibited more than a thousand harmful chemicals from use in makeup, while the United States has barred only eleven.
According to a remark made by Connecticut state representative Alex Bergstein to The Guardian, this is primarily due to the U.S.’s preference for producers and business over environmental and public health.
“The European Union (EU) generally has it correct. In the United States, businesses and producers receive undue benefits at the expense of people’s health and the ecosystem. “The pendulum has swung so far, and it’s going to take a general awakening on the part of the public,” as Bergstein puts it.
Europe has different standards altogether.
This divergence in regulation stems from the European Union’s (EU’s) stringent Reach (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation, and Restriction of Chemicals) program, which establishes procedures like requiring businesses to register their substances for evaluation by the European Chemicals Agency.
Because of the potential for industry pushback and because U.S. policies aren’t as stringent as those in the European Union, banning substances in the United States is exceedingly difficult. According to Environmental Working Group, the EPA has only 90 days to assess the danger of a novel substance before it can restrict its dissemination under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).
The EPA’s reluctance to prohibit chemicals has contributed to the trouble in doing so. In 1989, a federal judge reversed a prohibition on asbestos because of intense producer opposition. Given that only six out of the 40,000 chemicals used in production are banned, the EPA has been relatively silent about attempting to put other prohibitions since this effort.
PCBs, asbestos, radon, lead, mercury, and formaldehyde are the other six. (Remember that “limited” does not imply “prohibited. In the United States, asbestos use is not banned.Production is restricted to a certain extent but imports are unrestricted.
There needs to be a dramatic change for anything to happen.
In 2016, President Obama approved the Lautenberg Act, an attempt to modernize the chemical safety system by granting the EPA the authority to examine all compounds currently in use. The Environmental Defense Fund reports that despite the Trump administration’s efforts to reduce regulations, not much success has been made.
Former FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb said that companies making cosmetics are not required by law to conduct safety testing; instead, it is up to the discretion of the individual business.