Polyethylene Glycols (PEGs)
Sheftel, VO. Indirect Food Additives and Polymers: Migration and Toxicology. Lewis 2000 pp.1114-1116
Structural Formula. HO[~CH2CH2O~]nH
M = 500,000 to 10,000000
CAS No 25322-68-3
RTECS No TQ3500000
Synonyms and Trade Names. Carbowaxes; 1,2-Ethanediol, homopolymers; Ethylene glycol, homopolymers; Ethylene oxide, polymers; Ethylene polyoxide; Lutrol; Oxyethylene polymer; Polyethylene oxide polymers; Poly(ethyleneoxide)s; Polyhdroxyethylene; Polyoxyethylene; Polyoxyethylenediol; Poly(oxyethylene) glycols; Poly(vinyl oxide).
Properties. Clear, viscous liquids (M = 200 to 600) or waxiform (M = 1000 to 6000) products. Solubility in water is inversely proportional to molecular mass. Liquid PEG are colorless, almost odorless, and miscible with water. Waxiform PEGs (carbowaxes) are soluble in water (50 to 73%). At a concentration of 1.0 g/1, they do not alter the color, odor, or taste of water.
Applications. Used in food and food packaging. Used as plasticizers, solvents, water-soluble lubricants for rubber molds; wetting or softening agents, antistatics in the production of urethane rubber, components of detergents, etc. In medicine, PEGS are used in cosmetics, ointments, suppositories, in ophthalmic solutions and sustained-released oral pharmaceutical applications.
Migration of up to 50 mg PEGs/kg food was observed in chocolates, boiled sweets, toffees, cakes, and meat pies that were wrapped in regenerated cellulose films containing various mixtures of glycol softeners. Analysis of the glycols were performed by capillary GC with flame ionization detection after trimethylsilyl derivatization.1
Acute Toxicity. PEGs are generally considered to be inert and possess a low order of toxicity in animals and humans. Administration of 0.5 g high-molecular-mass PEG/kg BW in the form of an aqueous solution caused no visible signs of intoxication. No mortality occurred. Histological examination revealed small areas of round-cell infiltration, expanded vessels in the kidneys, and a plethoric spleen.2 A dose of 2.5 g/kg BW of PEG with M = 2,000000 and 7,000000 was not lethal to rats or mice. In the last case, the acute effect threshold was 0.5 g/kg BW. In the same doses, PEG synthesized on an organocalcium compound was not lethal. The acute effect threshold was not established.3
The mean lethal doses of PEG are presented in the table.03
Table Mean lethal doses of PEGs (g/kg BW).
Polyethylene Glycols Mice Rats Guinea pigs Rabbits 200 (insoluble) 33.9-38.3 28.9 16.9 14.1-19.9 300 (insoluble) 31.0 27.5-31.1 19.6-21.1 17.3-21.1 400 (insoluble) 28.9-35.6 12.9-30.2 15.7-21.3 22.3 600 (insoluble) 35.6-47.0 38.1 28.3 18.9 1000 (50%aqu.sol.) >50 42.0 22.5-41.0 >50 4000 (50%aqu.sol.) >50 >50 46.4-50.9 >50 6000 (50%aqu.sol.) >50 >50 >50 >50 9000 (50%aqu.sol.) >50 >50 >50 >50
Repeated Exposure. Cumulative properties were observed only in PEG obtained on an organoaluminum catalyst. Administration of 50 mg/kg BW over a period of two months decreased STI. An increase in BW gain was noted. A dose of 250 mg/kg BW caused a reduction in erythrocyte count and in peroxidase activity of the blood.
Cumulative properties of other PEGs were not pronounced: doses of 20 and 50 mg/kg BW did not kill animals. Kacc = 5.
Short-term Toxicity. F344 rats received up to 30,000 ppm NF-10 grade Polyox (M = about 100,000) in the diet for 13 weeks. The treatment caused slight increases in food consumption, BW, and BW gain. A dose-related increase in liver weight was not associated with any histopathology.4
Long-term Toxicity. Rats and mice received 3.1 g PEG/kg BW in aqueous solutions (M - 5,000000) for 12 months. There were no manifestations of toxic action.2
A 2-year dietary dosage up to 20,000 ppm NF-10 grade Polyox produced no toxic effects in treated rats.
There was no neoplastic and non-neoplastic pathology observed in this study.4
Allergenic Effect. Sensitizing properties were not pronounced.
Reproductive Toxicity. In a 2-year feeding study, oral and parenteral administration of PEG caused no effect on reproduction.5
See also Diethylene glycol.
Gonadotoxicity. In a 90-day study, administration of the dose of 230 mg PEG-75/kg BW induced testicular tubule degeneration and oligospermia.6
Rats received a dose of 3.0 mg/kg BW. The treatment caused no effect on the gonads or embryos, nor did it affect reproduction or the development of offspring.2
Rats were injected i/p with doses equivalent to 0.5 LD50 of PEG-400 and PEG-1500 three times during the gestation period. No increase in pre-implantation mortality was observed.
Embryotoxicity. Mild signs of embryotoxicity together with generally retarded development were reported..
No teratogenic effect was noted.'
In vitro genotoxicity. Polyox showed neither genotoxic activity in Salmonella typhimurium and E. coil assays, nor did it cause CA in Chinese hamster ovary cells.7
In vivo cytogenetics. Polyox was found to be negative in mouse bone marrow micronucleus test.4
Carcinogenicity. Exposure to PEG resulted in vaginal tumors and a weak tumor initiator effect in mice.5,8,9
Chemobiokinetics. Polyox is not absorbed in the GI tract. It showed high recoveries. Essentially all radiolabel was excreted in the feces.4 After i/v administration, PEG are excreted mainly unchanged. Regulations.
EU (1990). PEGs are available in the List of authorized monomers and other starting substances which shall be used for the manufacture of plastic materials and articles intended to come into contact with foodstuffs (Section A).
U.S. FDA (1998) regulates PEGs for use (I) in adhesives used as components of articles intended for use in packaging, transporting, or holding food (PEG 200-6000) in accordance with the conditions prescribed in 21 CFR part 175.105; (2) in resinous and polymeric coatings used as the food-contact surfaces of articles intended for use in producing, manufacturing, packing, processing, preparing, treating, packaging, transporting, or holding food in accordance with the conditions prescribed in 21 CFR part 175.300; (3) as a component of the uncoated or coated food-contact surface of paper and paperboard intended for use in producing, manufacturing, packing, transporting, or holding dry, aqueous and fatty food in accordance with the conditions prescribed in 21 CFR parts 176.170 and 176.180; (4) as a component of defoaming agents that may be safely used as components of articles intended for use in contact with food in accordance with the conditions prescribed in 21 CFR part 176.200; (5) PEG (M = 200 to 4600) of as defoaming agent used in the manufacture of paper and paperboard intended for use in packaging, transporting, or holding food in accordance with the conditions prescribed in 21 CFR part 176.210; (6) in the manufacture of cross-linked polyester resins for repeated use in articles or components of articles coming in the contact with food (PEG-6000) in accordance with the conditions prescribed in 21 CFR part 177.2420; (7) as a substance employed in the production of or added to textiles and textile fibers intended for use in contact with food (PEG 400 to 6000) in accordance with the conditions prescribed in 21 CFR part 177.2800. PEG may be safely used (8) if the additive is an addition polymer of ethylene oxide and water with a mean molecular mass of 200 to 9,500 and if PEG contains no more than 0.2% by weight of the ethylene and diethylene glycols and if its molecular mass is 350 or higher and no more than 0.5% by weight of the total of ethylene and diethylene glycols and if its mean molecular mass is below 350.
PEG monolaurate (PEG-400) containing not more than 0.1 % by weight of the ethylene and/or ethylene glycol may be used at a level not to exceed 0.3% by weight of the twine as a finish on twine to be used for tying meat provided the twine fibers are produced from nylon resins.
PEG dilaurate (PEG-200) may be used as a component of the uncoated or coated food-contact surface of paper and paperboard intended for use in producing, manufacturing, packaging, processing, preparing, treating, packing, transporting, or holding dry foods in accordance with the conditions prescribed in 21 CFR part 176.180. PEG alginate is listed for use as a component of the uncoated or coated food-contact surface of paper and paperboard intended for use in producing, manufacturing, packing, transporting, or holding aqueous and fatty food in accordance with the conditions prescribed in 21 CFR part 176.170.
Great Britain (1998). PEGS are authorized without time limit for use in the production of polymeric materials and articles in contact with food or drink or intended for such contact.
Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives. ADI: 10 mg/kg B W. Russia. ADI: 100 mg/kg BW.2
Standards. Russia. PML: n/m. MAC depends on M (organolept., foam): 3
0.125 mg/l for PEG with M = 2,000000;
0.1 mg/l for PEG with M = 3,000000;
0.2 mg/l for PEG with M = 5,000000.
1. Castle, L., Cloke, H. R., Crews, C., and Gilbert, J., The migration of propylene glycol, mono-, di-, and triethylene glycols from regenerated cellulose film into food, Z Lebensmit. Unters. Forsch., 187, 463, 1988.
2. Cherkasova, T. E., Larionov, A. G., Chanyshev, R. 0., and Cherkanov, S. P., General toxic action of polyoxyethylene, Gig. Sanit., 12, 86, 87 (in Russian).
3. Larionov, A. G., Cherkasova, T. Ye., and Strusevich, Ye. A., Comparative toxicological evaluation of polyoxyethylene made with different catalysts, in Hygiene and Toxicology of HighMolecular-Mass Compounds and of the Chemical Raw Material Used for Their Synthesis, Theses 6h All-Union Conf., B. Yu. Kalinin, Ed., Leningrad, Khimiya, 1979, 80 (in Russian).
4. Ballantyne, B., Leung, H.-W., Hermansky, S. J., and Frantz, S. W., Subchronic, chronic, pharmacokinetic and genotoxicity studies with Polyox water soluble resin, Abstract P1A43, in Abstracts VIII Int. Congr. Toxicol., Toxicol. Lett., Suppl. 1/95, 46, 1998.
5. Smyth, H. F., Carpenter, C. P., and Shaffer, C. B., The toxicity of high molecular weight polyethylene glycols: chronic oral and parenteral administration, J Am. Pharmacol. Assoc., Sci. Ed., 36,157, 1947.
6. Smyth, H. F., Carpenter, C. P., Shaffer, C. B., Seaton, J., and Fisher, L., Some pharmacological properties of polyethyleneglycols of high molecular weight ("Carbowax") compounds, J. Ind. Hyg. Toxicol., 24, 281, 1942.
7. Kartashov, V. F. and Belous, A. M., in All-Union Institute Sci.-Technical Information, Dep. No 737-84 (in Russian).
8. Boyland, E., Charles, R. T., and Gowing, N. F. C., The induction of tumors in mice by intravaginal application of chemical compounds, Br. J Cancer, 15, 252, 1961.
9. Field, W. E. H. and Roe, F. J. C., Tumor promotion in the forestomach epithelium of mice by oral administration of citrus oils, J. Natl. Canc. Inst., 35, 771, 1965.
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