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Monday
Sep292014

Methylisothiazolinone

Today's Chemical:

Methylisothiazolinone

EWG Risk Score:

6

What is it?

Methylisothiazolinone  is a synthetic cosmetic preservative.

Why is it a risk?

  • Methylisothiazolinone is a known neurotoxin.  In 2004, the European Scientific Committee on Cosmetic Products and Non-Food Products Intended for Consumers (SCCNFP) suggested that companies limit the maximum concentration to 0.01% (100 ppm).  However, US companies are not required to follow this guideline.
  • It is known to be absorbed through skin.  A study at the Pittsburgh School of Medicine concluded that "Prolonged exposure to low levels of MIT and related compounds may have damaging consequences to the developing nervous system." 
  • Is a developmental toxin.  (Source
  • Is a known contact allergen.  (Source)

Steph's Opinion:

Although concentrations of this ingredient are typically very low in a formulation, I personally suggest avoiding this ingredient. 

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References (3)

References allow you to track sources for this article, as well as articles that were written in response to this article.

Reader Comments (45)

Oh! Thanks for the info, T! Sometimes those ingredients lists on cleaning products can be hard to find and can definitely change at any time. Thanks for the heads up.

Fri, April 27, 2012 | Registered Commenter[Stephanie Greenwood]

Seventh Generation Free & Clear Dish Liquid has methylisothiazolinone in it.

Sat, June 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBunny

This chemical was my worst reaction at the allergist's office. I found it also in any liquid fabric softeners by Proctor & Gamble. I called them and they said it was not in the dryer sheets. However, I can only use ALL-Free detergent for the laundry and Bounce Free and Sensitive dryer sheets. If you are allergic to this chemical, you may also be allergic to all forms of latex. I had a bad reaction when my husband painted with latex paint. Bandaids with latex made my skin swell and the doctors must use latex-free gloves on me. There are several levels to this allergy. Check every item you use on your body and yes, many baby wipes and regular wipes have it also. I have a child and a grandchild with the same allergy.

Thu, June 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKathi

I have had a HORRIBLE rash in my face. The cause was only discovered after many, many weeks by a dermatologist. Culprit: Methylisothiazolinone in a cream- "so-called new formula" .
They used this preservative in all sorts of cleaning detergents as well.
I read all ingredients since and/or I buy natural products.

Sun, July 8, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMG NL

I have started using " zero frizz conditioner " & it appears to contain this substance. Is it ok to continue using it ?
Thanks ..

Thu, April 25, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterEyo

I found out from my dermatologist that I have the "M" allergy about 10 years ago. Since then each year more and more products have this ingredient. I'm currently suffering now from the worst reaction ever from using a suntan lotion that previously was free of it so I didn't check the label! Is it possible that it can affect your lymph nodes, as I got extremely large lymph nodes and had trouble breathing at the same time as the horrible rash?

Sat, June 1, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCaroline Ball

If you have an allergy, then I would recommend not using it at all. If not, I suppose you could continue to use it until you found a more natural option.

Tue, June 25, 2013 | Registered Commenter[Stephanie Greenwood]

Following some pretty bad allergic reactions in the last few months I think the culprit may be methylisothiazolinone. While I use pantene products without incident, facewipes and recently sun cream (both with the "m") have left me messed up. To help confirm, you don't by chance know if it is used in any hot tub chemicals? A ten minute dip left me on steriods for 10 days in February. Thanks!

Tue, June 25, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCaroline

@Caroline--it's possible that it could be in hot tub chemicals, however, they typically don't disclose everything in a product like that, so it's hard to say. It's possible also that residue from all the lotions and soaps from other people in the hot tub contaminated the water with the methylisothiazolinone enough to give you a reaction. I would recommend visiting an immunologist and getting patch testing done so you know for sure.

Thu, June 27, 2013 | Registered Commenter[Stephanie Greenwood]

This stuff is deadly! I suffered for many months with redness, itching, and fluid-filled patches on my face which looked wrinkly,. before the dermatologist gave me a patch test which revealed the methylisothiazolinone allergy. I checked everything I used, and the culprit was my Pantene shampoo and conditioner, and other Pantene products, along with Dawn dishwashing detergent. I stopped these things immediately, and the rash on my face started to go away within days.

I changed shampoos to Tresemme, which didn't have it, but then when I went to replace the used up Tresemme, I read the ingredients again, and found that they had ADDED this chemical to the new batch. I contacted them via e-mail, and they were totally cavalier about it. In other words, this is what we put in our shampoo, and that's it. I was trying to warn them because people will be suffering and won't know why. You usually don't think of shampoo as the culprit for a face rash.

Tue, March 25, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterCarolyn

This stuff is deadly! I suffered for many months with redness, itching, and fluid-filled patches on my face which looked wrinkly,. before the dermatologist gave me a patch test which revealed the methylisothiazolinone allergy. I checked everything I used, and the culprit was my Pantene shampoo and conditioner, and other Pantene products, along with Dawn dishwashing detergent. I stopped these things immediately, and the rash on my face started to go away within days.

I changed shampoos to Tresemme, which didn't have it, but then when I went to replace the used up Tresemme, I read the ingredients again, and found that they had ADDED this chemical to the new batch. I contacted them via e-mail, and they were totally cavalier about it. In other words, this is what we put in our shampoo, and that's it. I was trying to warn them because people will be suffering and won't know why. You usually don't think of shampoo as the culprit for a face rash.

Tue, March 25, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterCarolyn

For just over a year I’ve been struggling with an eczema-like / dermatitis rash in the eyelids, around the lips, abdomen area and the back of my right hand. I tried several medicated creams and they helped control the problem, but the rash flares up on and off. The worst was during last fall when the scaling eyelids and lips cracked causing a bit of pain.

I did some specialized allergy testing and was treated for molds. That did little to help the problem. A dermatologist had me do the “patch testing”. The test involved the application of about 7 sticky patches, containing a total of 50 common allergens, to my back under adhesive tape. These were left in place for 48 hours, then removed and left alone for another 48 hours and then the skin reaction was assessed. The worst part of this testing is that the back cannot be wetted (no showering or bathing). Out of the 50 allergens they concluded that I’m allergic to methylchloroisothiazolinone, a chemical preservative with antibacterial and antifungal effects found in many water-based personal care products and cosmetics.

So far I found one culprit product at home – liquid hand soap, brand Life, a product of Shopper’s Drug Mart. This is a brand that I first started using around the time I started noticing the rash. Hopefully, this is the only culprit in the house.

At the hospital clinic, I was given an information sheet about methylchloroisothiazolinone. This chemical is identified by different names, including: MIT, 2-Methyl-3(2H)-isothiazolone, 2-Methyl-2H-isothiazol-3-one. Also, there are a number of biocides containing methylchloroisothiazolinone (just google this).

Become familiar with these names and READ YOUR LABELS WELL. It will save skin problems, time to see doctors and money in testing and medications.

(April 2014)

Tue, April 1, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterManuela

I painted my bedroom with Behr paint and after facial swelling and terrible rash found out I'm allergic to the mehylisothizoline in it. Some one came to my house and muscle tested my entire house and said that I'm still allergic to the paint on the wall and I needed to repaint my room. It was painted 12 months ago. Is this possible that it's still off-gassing after all this time? This person has been wrong about some other things he tesed.

Thu, July 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDonna Robbins

This is one of the scarier ones you've shared yet. : |

Fri, October 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterChemical Man

My house and workplace are safe for me now. I only use Bubble and Bee and Dr. Bronners. They have a product called Sal Suds that can be used for everything. Dishes, laundry, and house cleaning. After 3 years I am clearing up!

Sun, October 12, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKaren Piro

I appreciate your idea here. Definitely it has a good content. Thank you for imparting more of your own thoughts. Good job!

Tue, November 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterStepler716

I am allergic to this terrible chemical and I am having a bad reaction now on my hands and under one of my arms, im not sure what set it off this time. Im trying to find a hand soap and a dish detergent that is free from this chemical, any suggestions?

Sat, November 22, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSonya

Lisa D,
I have used Dr. Bronner's soap as dish soap with success. It is not called a dish soap, so it wouldn't have made the approved list. It is a soap that will clean dishes however.

Wed, March 11, 2015 | Unregistered Commenterjdawl

This chemical has sensitized me so that any contact with a product or other person who has used a product containing MI, will cause severe itching and broken skin on contact. I can't try on clothing for fear they have been treated with the chemical, or the textile machinery have been cleaned with it. It can happen any time in your life.
We need to let companies know how damaging the use of this biocide in our products is.

Sun, May 31, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterMichelle R

I managed to get conformation of my allergy to MI and MIC this year , its been a long 5 years of symptoms ! Once the allergy has been confirmed , you are given a list of other words that might be used , and advised to avoid irritant ! I seem to only to be able to avoid it by not leaving my house , my life has changed so much now and not for the better , work place is causing me problems due to the fact that they paint all the time , plus people are using products with MI in , so I continually ask , how am I supposed to avoid this irritant ?

Sun, May 31, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterChrissy S

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