Mineral oil, a petrochemical, is one of the most widely used oils in the food and cosmetic industry. Most every commercial product has some form listed in the ingredients.
Mineral oil acts as a thin layer on the skin. It is difficult to absorb and clogs the pores, which slows the skins ability to eliminate toxins. Once the oil is absorbed, it is broken down by the liver and passes thru the intestinal tract; it will then absorb all of the fat soluble vitamins found there. It is essentially stealing important vitamins from the body which the body will not be able to replace. This can eventually lead to nutritional deficiencies. Studies have also shown forms of pneumonia caused by mineral oil decreasing lung function known as lipoid pneumonia.
Minimally unrefined mineral oils (untreated and mildly treated oils) are listed as human carcinogens. Highly refined mineral oils are not classified as human carcinogens. This makes it possible for food and cosmetic companies to use so much of it. It is very inexpensive and has a very long and stable shelf life, thus giving a cheaper and longer life to products.
Potential Health Effects
- Inhalation: Causes irritation to the respiratory tract. Symptoms may include coughing and shortness of breath. Inhalation of mist or vapor may produce aspiration pneumonia.
- Ingestion: Material is a cathartic (evacuating the bowels; purgative) and can cause serious diarrhea. Nausea and vomiting may also occur and possible abdominal cramping. Aspiration of mineral oil into the lungs can cause chemical pneumonia.
- Skin Contact: Prolonged contact will most likely cause irritation. Rashes, eczema, psoriasis, inflammation, dryness, flaky patches, itching, “skin sensitivity”, and “dermatitis” can all be linked to products containing mineral oil.
- Eye Contact: Mists or fumes can irritate the eyes causing redness, stinging, and itching.