Though the Cosmetics Database lists it as a low hazard ingredient, experts say that the standards need to evolve
Hyderabad: Experts say that the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) has insufficient information about Pentaerithrityl Hydroxyhydrocinnamate, a chemical used to stabilise beauty products.
A reply to a query filed under the RTI has revealed that the "use of it is not prescribed in any Indian Standards published for soap products by the sectional committee responsible for the development of standards under the chemical department".
The chemical and its derivative Tetradibutyl Pentaerithrityl Hydroxyhydrocinnamate are widely used in deodorants and soaps to mask the odour of other chemical ingredients. Though the Cosmetics Database lists it as a "low hazard" ingredient, experts say that the standards need to evolve. The same holds true for Transfluthrin, which is widely used in mosquito repellents.
City-based DNA expert Dr G.V. Rao from the Forum Against Corruption in Science is the person who had filed a query to be answered by the Chemical Department of the BIS in Delhi, under the RTI.
He says, "BIS has to approve all the ingredients used in consumer products. There should be standards for non-permissible ingredients and the maximum quantity of each of them that can be used. However, the RTI reply says that they don’t have such standards. The Department is blindly issuing licenses to companies. We don’t how harmful these chemicals are. Even if we consider Pentaerithrityl Hydroxyhydrocinnamate to be non-toxic, there should be some standards for its use."
According to the Cosmetics Database, Pentaerythrityl Tetraditbutyl Hydroxyhydrocinnamate is an antioxidant which inhibits oxidative reactions that could cause unsaturated fats in soap to turn rancid. "There is a blame-game regarding this ingredient going on between the Central Drug Safety Organisation and the State Drug Control Administration. They have no updates on the matter," says Dr Rao.
In another RTI reply, the food and agricultural department of the BIS has said, "BIS has not formulated any standards for Transfluthrin. No information is available with the BIS on the harmfulness of this chemical." Manufacturers claim that Transfluthrin has been characterised by the WHO as "unlikely to present an acute hazard under normal use". However, experts say that the chemical is poisonous.