Other names: 1,2-Propanediol; α-Propylene glycol; Methyl glycol; Methylethyl glycol; Methylethylene glycol; Monopropylene glycol; PG 12; Sirlene; 1,2-Dihydroxypropane; 1,2-Propylene Glycol; 2-Hydroxypropanol; 2,3-Propanediol; Propane-1,2-diol; Dowfrost; Propylene glycol usp; 1,2-Propylenglykol; Solar winter ban; Sentry Propylene Glycol; Isopropylene glycol; Ucar 35; Solargard P; Aliphatic alcohol; Chilisa FE; Ilexan P; Inhibited 1,2-propylene glycol; Prolugen; Propanediol; Trimethyl glycol; 1,2-Propandiol; 1,2-propanediol (propylene glycol); propylene glycol (1,2-propanediol); propylenglycol
CAS Registry Number: 57-55-6
Propylene glycol has properties similar to those of ethylene glycol (monoethylene glycol, or MEG). (Note: Infrequently propylene glycol may also use the acronym MEG, but as an abbreviation of methyl ethyl glycol- the industry standard acronym for propylene glycol is PG or MPG (monopropylene glycol). The industrial norm is to replace ethylene glycol with propylene glycol when safer properties are desired.
Propylene glycol is used:
Potential health effects
The oral toxicity of propylene glycol is very low, and large quantities are required to incur the dangerous effects described above. The potential for long-term toxicity is also low. In one study, rats were provided with feed containing as much as 5% PG over a period of 104 weeks and they showed no apparent ill effects. Because of its low chronic oral toxicity, propylene glycol is generally recognized as safe (GRAS) for use as a direct food additive. Cases of propylene glycol poisoning are related to either inappropriate intravenous use or accidental ingestion of large quantities by children.
Serious toxicity will occur only at plasma concentrations over 4g/L, which requires extremely high intake over a relatively short period of time. It would be nearly impossible to reach toxic levels by consuming foods or supplements, which contain at most 1g/kg of PG. Propylene glycol is metabolized into pyruvic acid, which is a normal part of the glucose metabolism process and is readily converted to energy.
Veterinary data indicates that propylene glycol is toxic to 50% of dogs at doses of 9mL/kg, although the figure is higher for most laboratory animals (LD50 at levels of 20mL/kg). However, it may be toxic to cats in ways not seen in other animals. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has determined that propylene glycol in or on cat food has not been shown by adequate scientific data to be safe for use. If propylene glycol is used in or on cat food, the food is considered adulterated and in violation of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.
Prolonged contact with propylene glycol is essentially non-irritating to the skin. Undiluted propylene glycol is minimally irritating to the eye, and can produce slight transient conjunctivitis (the eye recovers after the exposure is removed). Exposure to mists may cause eye irritation, as well as upper respiratory tract irritation. Inhalation of the propylene glycol vapors appears to present no significant hazard in ordinary applications. However, limited human experience indicates that inhalation of propylene glycol mists could be irritating to some individuals. Therefore inhalation exposure to mists of these materials should be avoided. Some research has suggested that propylene glycol not be used in applications where inhalation exposure or human eye contact with the spray mists of these materials is likely, such as fogs for theatrical productions or antifreeze solutions for emergency eye wash stations.
There is limited evidence that intravenous injection of PG can cause adverse responses in a small number of people. A Clinical Journal of Medicine article describes two cases of adult men experiencing psychosis from use of injected phenytoin that contained PG as a solvent. Their symptoms resolved when they were switched to a phenytoin formulation without PG.
Research has suggested that individuals who cannot tolerate propylene glycol probably experience a special form of irritation, but that they only rarely develop allergic contact dermatitis. Other investigators believe that the incidence of allergic contact dermatitis to propylene glycol may be greater than 2% in patients with eczema.
Patients with vulvodynia and interstitial cystitis may be especially sensitive to propylene glycol. Women struggling with yeast infections may also notice that some OTC creams can cause intense burning.Post menopausal women who require the use of an estrogen cream may notice that brand name creams made with propylene glycol often create extreme, uncomfortable burning along the vulva and perianal area. In these cases, patients can request that a local compounding pharmacy make a "propylene glycol free" cream.
Possible air germicide
Studies conducted in 1942 by Dr. Oswald Hope Robertson of University of Chicago's Billings Hospital showed vaporized propylene glycol inhalation in laboratory mice may prevent pneumonia, influenza, and other respiratory diseases. Additional studies in monkeys and other animals were undertaken to determine longterm effects, especially the potential for accumulation in the lungs.