Methylisothiazolinone (MI) is a powerful synthetic biocide and preservative within the group of isothiazolinones, which is used in numerous personal care products such as sunscreens and shampoos, as well as other industrial applications.
The new report by the Danish EPA evaluates the concentration of MIT in consumer products sold on the Danish market, and its exposure levels, finding that consumers may be exposed to concentrations that could potentially lead to allergies.
The report also says that all products containing the substance should be labelled clearly with allergy warnings.
Denmark’s Environment Minister, Kirsten Brosbøl, is backing the report and is also pushing for the EU to limit MI in consumer products, along with stricter labelling.
“Consumers should not be exposed to substances which we know are highly allergenic. Especially in products applied directly to the skin. I want a ban on putting MI in cosmetics throughout the EU,” says Brosbøl.
“Denmark has pushed for a long time and it seems that it will soon succeed to ban MI in creams and similar products.”
MI is used as it protects products against bacteria, meaning they last longer. Unfortunately, the preservative is proving to be a concern because of sensitization and allergic reactions as well as cell and nerve damage; with Cosmetics Europe advising members to discontinue its use in leave-on skin products in 2013.
Last year the European Commission’s Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety also issued an opinion on the safety of MI, stating: “Current clinical data indicate that 100 ppm MI in cosmetic products is not safe for the consumer.”
"For leave-on cosmetic products (including ‘wet wipes’), no safe concentrations of MI for induction of contact allergy or elicitation have been adequately demonstrated. For rinse-off cosmetic products, a concentration of 15 ppm (0.0015%) MI is considered safe for the consumer from the view of induction of contact allergy,” said its opinion in 2014.