Canada Targets Cosmetic Chemicals | Chemical & Engineering News
Latest News
Web Date: March 10, 2009

Canada Targets Cosmetic Chemicals

Government to ban four chemicals used in cosmetics because of health hazards concerns
Department: Government & Policy
Nail polish ingredients will be affected by Canada's ban of 2-methyl-1-propanol.
Credit: Dreamstime
Nail polish ingredients will be affected by Canada's ban of 2-methyl-1-propanol.
Credit: Dreamstime

As part of its ongoing assessment of commercial chemicals, the Canadian government on March 7 announced it would ban the use of four substances in cosmetics.

The government says the compounds could pose a hazard to human health, although the public's exposure to the chemicals in Canada is low.

One of the substances is 2-methoxyethanol acetate, an industrial solvent found in some nail polishes and glues. According to the governmental agencies Health Canada and Environment Canada, exposure to the chemical may interfere with fertility and harm the developing fetus.

Another of the compounds slated for regulation is 2-methy-1-propanol, which is used to make propylene glycol monomethyl ether (PGME). Consumer products made with PGME, such as nail polish, nail polish remover, hair spray, hair dye, and false eyelash adhesive and remover, may have small amounts of 2-methy-1-propanol, say Health Canada and Environment Canada. According to the agencies, 2-methy-1-propanol may adversely affect fetal development.

The Canadian government plans to prohibit use of PGME in cosmetics if it contains concentrations of 2-methy-1-propanol more than 0.5%.

In addition, the government is seeking data on levels of 2-methy-1-propanol in food packaging. The chemical may be an impurity in solvents used to manufacture paperboard and plastic food packaging, the agencies say. The solvents, however, aren't expected to be in the finished packaging.

A third chemical affected by the Canadian action is 2-(2-methoxyethoxy) ethanol, listed on cosmetic labels as methoxydiglycol and also known as DEGME. This substance may impair fertility and harm developing fetuses, the agencies say. A small number of cosmetics sold in Canada contain this compound, they add.

Methoxydiglycol is also in some latex paints, paint removers, sealants, floor polish, and floor cleaner, according to the agencies. The government will continue to study the chemical to determine whether further regulatory action is needed to protect the public.

The final substance affected by the action is Pigment Red 3, used mainly in paints but found in a few cosmetics. The compound caused cancer in some experiments with laboratory animals. The agencies will investigate whether the government needs to take further action on Pigment Red 3 to protect health.

More information is available at

Chemical & Engineering News
ISSN 0009-2347
Copyright © American Chemical Society

Leave A Comment

*Required to comment