How Bad are Isothiazolinones?

How bad can this chemical be?  If I’m not allergic, why should I care?

Some of the most prominent studies found online about isothiazolinones are related to sensitivity to baby wipes in children.  Parents used baby wipes on their children, the children became more sensitive over time, and then parents were visiting their doctors with kids with enormous red rashes on their faces wondering what was going on.

The scariest thing about isothiazolinones is that they are sensitizing agents that are found almost everywhere.  This means that the more you are exposed to them, the more likely you are to have a reaction, and the worse your reaction will become.  You have a good possibility of becoming sensitized eventually when you encounter them every day all day.  And once you do become sensitive, it is almost impossible to avoid them.  Even if you change your laundry and dish detergents, hand soap, shampoo, conditioner, body wash, and lotion, you still have a million more places you can encounter these chemicals throughout each day.  Not only can you be exposed to isothiazolinones through physical contact with objects, but also through the air.

If a wall has been painted recently in your office building or grocery store, the airborne chemicals can come into contact with your skin and eyes.  If a floor has recently been washed with cleaning chemicals, they can reach your body through the air as well.  If other people are using the liquid hand soap in the bathrooms and touch the door, lock, or light switch on the way out, then no matter how you wash your hands, if you touch that door handle or light switch on the way out you can pick it up on your hands.  Toilet paper or tissues can have their plies held together with adhesive containing isothiazolinones, recycled paper fibre can be made germ-free by treating with isothiazolinones at the paper mill, and isothiazolinones can be used to treat raw paper/cellulose fibre prior to its arrival at the paper mill.  If a carpet or furniture has been stain treated or cleaned recently, you can pick up isothiazolinones on your clothes or feet.  Stay at someone’s house or a hotel, and any towel or bedding can spread isothiazolinones on your skin.  Stay in a public place or hotel, and they could have placed air fresheners containing isothiazolinones into the air conditioning unit.  Touch any surfaces that have been wiped down by chemical cleaners and you are putting those same chemicals onto your skin.  Hug a friend, and the chemicals in their products are shared with you.  The possibilities for contact are almost endless.

Considering the depth of negative effects of this chemical and possible exposure routes, this is something we and our governments should be working to eliminate, not encourage increased use.