Welcome to the first post in my blog series of #WhatisitWednesday. If you’ve been following me on Facebook in my VIP group you’ve seen a few of these pop up already. What is it Wednesday is a chance for me to share education regarding questionable ingredients that could potentially be harmful. Compared to the European Union, which bans or restricts ~1,400 potentially harmful ingredients, the US only bans 30 and until recently, that number was only 17 (read more here).
Today we’ll talk about Methylisothiazolinone and methylchloroisothiazolinone, brought to you by hard to pronounce ingredients J! Have you ever heard the saying, “if you can’t pronounce it, then you probably shouldn’t be eating it?”. What if the same held true for our personal care products? We’d probably be out of luck right? We’d have smelly clothes because our detergents didn’t work and stinky pits because our deodorant wasn’t cutting it, and wrinkles because we weren’t basting our faces with chemicals…oh the HORROR!
So what is this methyl-what? Methylisothiazolinone (MI) and methylchloroisothiazolinone are chemical preservative that are among some of the most common irritants, sensitizers, and culprits of contact skin allergies (dermatitis, eczema, etc.). These ingredients can be found in latex paint, air fresheners, household cleaners, laundry products, dish soaps, shampoo, conditioner, and body wash. You can be exposed to it by breathing in the vapors or having direct skin contact when using the cleaning or personal care products.
Risks according to TOXNET, a group of databases covering chemicals and drugs, diseases and the environment, environmental health, occupational safety and health, poisoning, risk assessment and regulations, and toxicology are as follows:
- skin irritation
- allergic reaction
- respiratory irritation
Other risks as seen in animals (not confirmed by human studies)
- changes in behavior
- stomach and intestinal damage
- eye corrosion
“The potential for MI to cause cancer in humans has not been assessed by the U.S. EPA IRIS program, the International Agency for Research on Cancer, or the U.S. National Toxicology Program 13th Report on Carcinogens.”
To be fair, “the Cosmetic Ingredient Review Expert Panel noted the in vitro evidence of neurotoxicity but concluded that the absence of any neurotoxicity findings in the many in vivo studies, including subchronic, chronic, and reproductive and developmental animal studies, suggests that MI would not be neurotoxic as used in cosmetics. Although recognizing that MIT was a sensitizer in both animal and human studies, the panel concluded that there is a threshold dose response and that cosmetic products formulated to contain concentrations of MIT at 100 ppm (0.01%) or less would not be expected to pose a sensitization risk”.
The concern I have is, what is the cumulative effect of using multiple products daily that may fall below the threshold but when used together you’re being exposed to far more than what is deemed “acceptable levels”.
Recently, the prevalence of contact allergy to MI has increased dramatically. One of the major sources of exposure are cosmetic products. Many epidemiological studies report the steep increase of allergic reactions to these ingredients over the past few years.
Urwin et al. (2015) reports sensitivity to either methylchloroisothiazolinone (MCI)/methylisothiazolinone (MI) or MI has increased, with a reported frequency of up to 11.1% among dermatitis patients, the main context being allergic contact dermatitis caused by MCI or MCI/MI in personal care products.
Pediatric cases of allergic contact dermatitis to MI in baby wet wipes were reported in the US by Chang et al. (2014) and a recommendation was made that all isothiozolinones should be avoided in personal care and household products for patients with these reactions.
If you’re wondering if your household products and personal care items contain these ingredients, here is a handy list. This is especially important if you or someone in your home has sensitive skin and is prone to eczema, contact dermatitis, or other allergic skin reactions.
So what now? Do you just throw everything out and start over? Well, it’s advisable to at least make changes where it’s convenient for you. So here are some recommendations that I’ve used personally.
Thieves Multi-Purpose Cleaner
Norwex EnviroCloth (I can hook you up with someone if you don’t have anyone)
Seventh Generation Dishwasher Detergent Packs, Free & Clear
Thieves Liquid Dish Soap
Seventh Generation Powder or Pods (NOTE: the liquid contains MI)
I just ordered some Norwex Ultra Power Plus Powder, will report back on that!