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image source: PubChem
Health Concerns of the Ingredient:
Overall Hazard
Developmental &
reproductive toxicity

About PABA: A once-common sunscreen ingredient, now avoided due to allergic dermatitis and photosensitivity. Research indicates PABA has carcinogenic potential. PABA derivatives are now more commonly used, but th ... read more

Function(s): Sunscreen Agent; Ultraviolet Light Absorber; UV ABSORBER; UV FILTER


Use restrictions

Concern Reference
Violation of government restrictions - Banned or found unsafe for use in cosmeticsCanada - Prohibited and Restricted Cosmetics Ingredients
Violation of government restrictions - Banned or found unsafe for use in cosmeticsCosIng


Concern Reference
Human toxicant or allergen - moderate evidenceMancel, E
Limited evidence of immune system toxicity or allergiesMackie BS, Mackie LE

Multiple, additive exposure sources

Concern Reference
Used in food or as an additive with limited or no toxicity information availableFDA Everything Added to Food
Designated as safe for general or specific, limited use in foodFDA Food Additive Status

Biochemical or cellular level changes

Concern Reference
Produces excess reactive oxygen species that can interfere with cellular signaling, cause mutations, lead to cell death and may be implicated in cardiovascular disease.

Data gaps

Concern Reference
5,422 studies in PubMed science library may include information on the toxicity of this chemical see search results ->NLM PubMed

Enhanced skin absorption

Concern Reference
Absorbs into the skinWang LH, Huang WS, Tai HM


Concern Reference
Limited or incomplete evidence of cancer according to safety/hazard data – government assessment cannot classify as human carcinogen due to data gapsInt'l Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) - Carcinogens

Persistence and bioaccumulation

Concern Reference
Not suspected to be persistentEnvironment Canada Domestic Substance List
Not suspected to be bioaccumulativeEnvironment Canada Domestic Substance List

Organ system toxicity (non-reproductive)

Concern Reference
Classified as not expected to be potentially toxic or harmfulEnvironment Canada Domestic Substance List


Concern Reference
Not suspected to be an environmental toxinEnvironment Canada Domestic Substance List

Data Sources

EC (Environment Canada). 2008. Domestic Substances List Categorization. Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA) Environmental Registry.
European Commission. 2013. Cosing, the European Commission database with information on cosmetic substances and ingredients. Accessed on March 1, 2013 at http://ec.europa.eu/consumers/cosmetics/cosing/ .
FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) 2006. Food Additive Status List. Downloaded from http://www.cfsan.fda.gov/%7Edms/opa-appa.html, Oct 16, 2006.
FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration). 2008. EAFUS [Everything Added to Food]: A Food Additive Database. FDA Office of Food Safety and Applied Nutrition.
Health Canada. 2007. List of Prohibited and Restricted Cosmetic Ingredients. Canada's Cosmetic Ingredient Hotlist. March 2007.
IARC (International Agency for Research on Cancer). 2008. Overall Evaluations of Carcinogenicity to Humans, as evaluated in IARC Monographs Volumes 1-99 (a total of 935 agents, mixtures and exposures).
Mackie BS, Mackie LE. The PABA story. Australas J Dermatol. 1999 Feb;40(1):51-3.
Mancel, E., M. Drouet, et al. (1999). "[Allergy to sunscreens]." Allerg Immunol (Paris) 31(6): 195-9.
NLM (National Library of Medicine). 2012. PubMed online scientific bibliography data. http://www.pubmed.gov.
Wang LH, Huang WS, Tai HM. 2007. Simultaneous determination of p-aminobenzoic acid and its metabolites in the urine of volunteers, treated with p-aminobenzoic acid sunscreen formulation. J Pharm Biomed Anal 43(4): 1430-1436.
{Allen, 1996}

About the Skin Deep® ratings

EWG provides information on personal care product ingredients from the published scientific literature, to supplement incomplete data available from companies and the government. The ratings below indicate the relative level of concern posed by exposure to the ingredients in this product - not the product itself - compared to other product formulations. The ratings reflect potential health hazards but do not account for the level of exposure or individual susceptibility, factors which determine actual health risks, if any. Learn more | Legal Disclaimer


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