The use of hazardous preservatives in chemical products has increased dramatically during the years 1995–2018. Several of these are highly allergenic and can cause lifelong allergies that affect work ability and quality of life. A new study from the Institute of Environmental Medicine (IMM) highlights the need for measures to protect human health and the environment.
Many preservatives and other biocides are highly allergenic in skin contact. Several are also harmful to the environment. Allergy is lifelong and anyone who has become allergic must avoid skin contact with the substance in order not to become ill in allergic contact dermatitis that adversely affects work ability and quality of life.
Significantly increased use
The purpose of the current study was to increase knowledge about how EU chemicals legislation and the use of the most problematic preservatives in chemical products have evolved over time, while the use in cosmetics is more widely known. The results show that the use of the most problematic substances has increased very significantly. The study also shows that information on the content of preservatives is often missing due to the design of the regulations. The only products that today must have a declaration of preservatives on the packaging are cosmetics and detergents. Some preservatives, especially isothiazolinones, have caused massive outbreaks of contact allergy due to extensive use. Therefore, it is often difficult to avoid risky contact and skin disease. Color, adhesive and putty are examples of products that often contain these harmful chemicals.
The greatly increasing use of preservatives and other biocides is alarming. Rapid and effective measures are needed to protect human health and the environment.
The study, published in the scientific journal Contact Dermatitis, contains an overview of limit values for just over 20 common and allergenic preservatives and an analysis of data from the product register for the same substances in 1995–2018. The study also discusses how EU chemicals legislation can be used more effectively and how industry can reduce the use of hazardous preservatives.
Source/Credit: Karolinska Institutet