Not your cup of TEA!

Triethanolamine? We're not talking about the heartwarming 'cup of TEA' much loved by Brits, or even the perfumed kind preferred by the Chinese!

We are referring to the chemical compound TEA - or Triethanloamine along with DEA (Diethanolamine) and MEA (Monoethanolamine), which are frequently used in mass-market brands of skin care in the role of solvents, emulsifiers and wetting agents. That means they are used in MANY well-known brands - brands YOU and your family may be using every day!

These chemicals are also used to balance the pH of cosmetic and personal care and appears in the formulations of a variety of different products - including skin lotion, eye gels, moisturizers, shampoos, shaving foams, etc.

Whilst Triethanolamine itself is not classified as carcinogenic to humans - some individuals may develop dermatitis when their skin comes into contact with it, especially if concentrations are relatively high.

Where nastier problems could arise is when TEA/DEA/MEA come into contact with nitrosating agents that are often found in many personal care products. When nitrites used in such producst for preservation start to break down (which is most likely to happen after poor, or prolonged storage). This leads to the formation of N-nitrosodiethanolamine (NDEA) which is a human carcinogen (cancer-causing) agent.

The US Dept of Health and Human Services' National Toxicology Program, 1997 (NTP TR 478) which studied DEA in depth (which chosen for study due to the fact that many people are regularly exposed to it through their personal care products) stated that there was clear evidence of carcinogenic activity by the chemical toxins formed by DEA in combination with nitrosating agents.

Names to look out for when scrutinizing personal care, skin care and cosmetics product labels include:

  • DEA (Diethanolamine)
  • TEA (Tea, triethanolamine)
  • MEA(Cocamide DEA
  • Laurimide DEA
  • Linoleamide DEA, Oleamide DEA)

    BUT -- Why keep using products that are known to contain potentially harmful ingredients like this?

    You can actively choose to reduce your exposure to chemical toxins like TEA and its relatives, by changing to 100% natural, certified organic products. That is products that include ONLY natural and efficacious ingredients, that have the additional advantage of being obtaimned from agricultural sources that are CERTIFIED organic.

    (NOTE: Certified organic products are the only organic products that can show their provenance and prove their integrity as organic. Beware on marketing hype without substance - there is a lot of it about - ALWAYS READ THE LABEL.)

    ** This item was first featured on our Toxic Time Bomb Blog a short while ago.

    Go to the top of the Triethanolamine page

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