Toxic List – P

PABA (Para-aminobenzoic acid)

PABA is an organic compound that is often used to make sunscreen because of its ability to absorb ultraviolet light. PABA has been linked to skin reactions, respiratory problems, and liver toxicity.


Parabens are widely used as preservatives in cosmetic products, such as shaving gel, shampoo, tanning lotion, and moisturizer. Parabens cause skin irritation, contact dermatitis, and rosacea in some people. High levels of parabens have been detected in breast cancer tumors, leading some scientists to conclude that parabens cause breast cancer.

Perchloroethylene (PERC)

PERC is a colorless, non-flammable liquid that is used as an industrial solvent. It is also found in dry cleaning solutions. Exposure to PERC can cause symptoms like dizziness, nausea, irritation, and headaches.


Pesticides are chemicals that are used to eliminate pests, such as insects, weeds, and fungus. Most pesticides are derived from petroleum. They are detectable in most conventionally-grown produce. High-level exposure to pesticide can lead to lung cancer, brain cancer, infertility, and neurological disorders.


Petrochemicals are chemicals derived from petroleum and include chlorine, formaldehyde, optical brighteners, and several other chemicals on this list. Petrochemicals create pollution problems and are harmful to the health of humans and animals.

Petroleum distillates

Petroleum distillates are hydrocarbon solvents obtained during the petroleum refining process. Petroleum distillates are found in a wide variety of household products, including lip gloss, paint thinners, furniture polish, fertilizer, and pesticides. Symptoms of exposure to petroleum distillates include irritation to the skin, eyes, and respiratory system, as well as brain damage. Many petroleum distillates have also been linked with cancer.


Phosphates are minerals used as water-softening agents in laundry and automatic dishwashing detergent. When phosphates are introduced to enclosed lakes, they cause algae overproduction. When the algae die and start to decompose, oxygen in lakes can become depleted.


Polyester is made of synthesized polymers, which are also used to manufacture plastic drink bottles. Polyester is often used to weave fabric for clothing, home furnishings, blankets, and bed sheets. It is also used to cushion and insulate pillows and comforters. Polyester is highly flammable and non-biodegradable. When it is burned, it emits toxic and carcinogenic fumes.


Polyethylene is the most widely used plastic. It is found in a variety of household products, such as plastic wrap, milk containers, toys, and plastic bags. Polyethylene does not readily biodegrade and remains in landfills for hundreds of years.

Polyvinyl chloride (PVC)

PVC is a widely used plastic that is dangerous to human health and the environment. PVC is suitable for a variety of applications. It is used as insulation on electric wires, to make clothing, to manufacture signs, and to produce pipes. Dioxins are a byproduct of the manufacture of PVC, and PVC itself has been linked to cancer. There are also concerns that phthalates and lead leach from PVC packaging.

Propylene glycol

Propylene glycol is a clear, colorless, and odorless liquid that is highly flammable. Propylene glycol is found in food products, household items, and cosmetics. Exposure to the chemical can lead to skin irritation, damage of the kidneys, respiratory problems, and irritation to the eyes.

Paraffin wax

Paraffin wax is a white, odorless, and waxy solid that is a byproduct of petroleum. Paraffin wax is used to make candles, as waterproof coating, and as a food preservative. Burning candles made of paraffin wax releases some of the same chemicals found in diesel fuel.