Diethylene Glycol Found in Toothpastes: Which are the Risks?

FDA: Throw away toothpaste made in China. ‘The government warned consumers on Friday to avoid using toothpaste made in China because it may contain a poisonous chemical used in antifreeze. Out of caution, the Food and Drug Administration said, people should throw away toothpaste with labeling that says it was made in China. The FDA is concerned that these products may contain diethylene glycol (DEG).
Officials said they are primarily concerned about toothpaste sold at bargain retail outlets. The ingredient in question, called DEG, is used as a lower-cost sweetener and thickening agent. The highest concentration of the chemical found in toothpaste so far was between 3 percent and 4 percent of the product’s overall weight.
“It does not belong in toothpaste even in small concentrations,” said the FDA’s Deborah M. Autor.
The FDA increased its scrutiny of toothpaste made in China because of reports of contamination in several countries, including Panama. The agency is particularly concerned about chronic exposure to DEG in children and in people with kidney or liver disease.’

From China to Panama, a Trail of Poisoned Medicine. ‘The kidneys fail first. Then the central nervous system begins to misfire. Paralysis spreads, making breathing difficult, then often impossible without assistance. In the end, most victims die.
Many of them are children, poisoned at the hands of their unsuspecting parents.
The syrupy poison, diethylene glycol, is an indispensable part of the modern world, an industrial solvent and prime ingredient in some antifreeze. It is also a killer. And the deaths, if not intentional, are often no accident.
Over the years, the poison has been loaded into all varieties of medicine — cough syrup, fever medication, injectable drugs — a result of counterfeiters who profit by substituting the sweet-tasting solvent for a safe, more expensive syrup, usually glycerin, commonly used in drugs, food, toothpaste and other products.’

FDA: Detention Without Physical Examination of Dentifrice Products Containing Diethylene Glycol (DEG)

China rejects FDA warning on toothpaste. ‘China rejected a warning issued by the U.S.
Food and Drug Administration urging consumers to avoid using Chinese toothpaste because it may contain a poisonous chemical used in antifreeze.
Calling the FDA warning “unscientific, irresponsible and contradictory,” China’s General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine said in a statement posted on its Web site late Saturday that low levels of the chemical have been deemed safe for consumption.
The FDA increased its scrutiny of toothpaste made in China because of reports that the products may contain diethylene glycol, a thickening agent used as a low-cost — but frequently deadly — substitute for glycerin, a sweetener commonly used in drugs.
China’s main food safety regulator said in its statement that the ingredients of toothpaste exported to the U.S. is offered to the FDA, showing the amount of diethylene glycol. Also, the toothpaste’s labeling has already been registered with the FDA, allowing it to be sold in the U.S, the statement said.
The General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine said experts from the Health Ministry had deemed diethylene glycol a “low-level” poison that does not accumulate in the body and found no evidence the substance caused cancer or deformities.’

PAN Pesticides Database: Diethylene Glycol – Identification, toxicity, use, water pollution potential, ecological toxicity and regulatory information.

eMedicine: Toxicity of Ethylene Glycol. ‘Several toxic alcohols are of medical and toxicological importance; the principal ones include ethanol, ethylene glycol (EG), methanol, and isopropanol. This article discusses ethylene glycol, a common component of radiator fluid.
Ethylene glycol is the major ingredient of almost all radiator fluid products in the United States. It is used to increase the boiling point and decrease the freezing point of radiator fluid, which circulates through the automotive radiator. These changes to the boiling and freezing points result from the colligative properties of the solute (ie, they depend on the number of particles in the solution). Hence, ethylene glycol is added to prevent the radiator from overheating or freezing, depending on the season. Fluorescein dye is often added to radiator fluid to help identify the source of a leak. The fluorescein in the fluid fluoresces when viewed under ultraviolet light.
Ethylene glycol tastes sweet, which is why some animals are attracted to it. Many veterinarians are familiar with ethylene glycol toxicity because of the frequent cases that involve dogs or cats who drink radiator fluid.
Ethylene glycol is a relatively common cause of overdose in American emergency departments. In 2003, 5,081 cases were reported to the American Association of Poison Control Centers, including 468 moderate or major outcomes and 16 deaths. Rapid intervention often makes an important difference in the outcome of ethylene glycol toxicity.’

International Occupational Safety and Health Information Centre (CIS): Diethylene Glycol (DEG)

ScienceLab: Diethylene Glycol (DEG) Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS)

Other incidents: Taste of Raspberries, Taste of Death: The 1937 Elixir Sulfanilamide Incident, Fatalities Associated with Ingestion of Diethylene Glycol-Contaminated Glycerin Used to Manufacture Acetaminophen Syrup – Haiti, November 1995-June 1996 and Diethylene glycol poisoning in Gurgaon, India, 1998


  1. I’m trying to find info on generic (removed from shelves) glycerin supponitories. I’ve been diagnosed with severe symptoms of fibromyalgia since the DEG scare. Before I accept treatment for the wrong thing I’ll need further information.
    Thank you
    Sandra Scarborough

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