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Is Propylene Glycol Bad For You?

Also Known As: Propane-1,2-diol, E-number E1520



Short answer

Many studies indicate propylene glycol is generally safe for humans. Effects, when they do occur, are mild and normally only become noticeable after prolonged exposure.



Long answer

Propylene glycol is a water-soluble derivative of hydrated propylene oxide that has a wide range of applications. It is a colorless and odorless synthetic liquid that may be made into a vapor by heating or rigorous shaking. It is used to make polyester compounds, as a base for deicing solutions, for theatrical smoke, etc. Perhaps the two most common uses which create a possibility of long-term exposure is in e-cigarettes and as a food additive.

While there are some side effects which may occur due to prolonged exposure (e.g. skin irritation, redness, burning, itching, conjunctivitis), these cases are normally mild and rare, requiring high exposure over a long time.

The FDA recognizes propylene glycol as "generally safe for food" and there have not been found to exist any abnormal effects from using the compound as a solvent in food color and flavoring. It has been found to be non-toxic when ingested and is broken down inside the body in approximately 48 hours.

If you feel any abnormalities after exposure to propylene glycol, see a doctor immediately as waiting can make it hard to detect. While there are no direct health benefits, it does serve as a better alternative to ingesting the chemicals that come out as smoke in real cigarettes.

Possible short-term side effects

  • skin irritation
  • itchiness
  • conjunctivitis
  • nausea
  • bloating
  • frequent bowel movements
  • cramps
  • gas

Big is propylene glycol bad for you 2


  • better alternative than cigarette smoke

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Written by Jeff Volling | 12-29-2015

Written by Jeff Volling
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