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What is Ethylene Oxide?

If you read your product labels like you should then you have most likely found ethylene oxide on the list. Keep reading to find out exactly what it is, where you can find it and some of the side effects you can have from using it.

According to the EPA's Hazard Summary, it identifies ethylene oxide defined as:

The major use of ethylene oxide is as a chemical intermediate in the manufacture of ethylene glycol. Ethylene oxide is also used as a sterilizing agent for medical equipment and a fumigating agent for spices. The acute (short-term) effects of ethylene oxide in humans consist mainly of central nervous system depression and irritation of the eyes and mucous membranes. Chronic (long-term) exposure to ethylene oxide in humans can cause irritation of the eyes, skin, nose, throat, and lungs, and damage to the brain and nervous system. There also is some evidence linking ethylene oxide exposure to reproductive effects. EPA has concluded that ethylene oxide is carcinogenic to humans by the inhalation route of exposure. Evidence in humans indicates that exposure to ethylene oxide increases the risk of lymphoid cancer and, for females, breast cancer.

Ethylene oxide is used in making products like antifreeze, detergents and adhesives.

You can commonly find ethylene oxide in some commercial shaving creams and lotions. I would encourage you to read your labels and even consider using more natural products or even make your own.

One thing to remember is that small steps can make a big impact. There is no need to go throwing away everything with ethylene oxide in it but if you can avoid it on your next purchase it can be worth it.

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