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Data: Fair

Paba

IMAGE SOURCE: PubChem

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Other Concerns

Use restrictions (high), Multiple, additive exposure sources (low), and Biochemical or cellular level changes (high)

SYNONYMS

4-AMINO- BENZOIC ACID, 4-AMINOBENZOIC ACID, AMINOBENZOIC ACID, ANILINE-4-CARBOXYLIC ACID, BENZOIC ACID, 4-AMINO-, BENZOIC ACID, 4AMINO, P-AMINOBENZOIC ACID, P-CARBOXYANILINE, P-CARBOXYPHENYLAMINE, PABA, and PABA (PARA-AMINOBENZOIC ACID)

Unacceptable

Unacceptable: EWG VERIFIED products cannot contain this ingredient


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 these too may have health concerns.

Common concerns

See how this product scores for common concerns.

  • LOW
    Cancer
  • MODERATE
    Allergies & Immunotoxicity
  • LOW
    Developmental and Reproductive Toxicity
  • HIGH
    Use Restrictions

Ingredient concerns

  • CONCERNS
  • DATA SOURCES

Products with this Ingredient

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Biochemical or cellular level changes

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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.Open scientific literature

Use restrictions

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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

Enhanced skin absorption

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CONCERN REFERENCE
Absorbs into the skinOpen scientific literature

Allergies/immunotoxicity

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CONCERN REFERENCE
Human any toxicant or allergen - moderate evidenceOpen scientific literature
Limited evidence of immune system toxicity or allergiesOpen scientific literature

Multiple, additive exposure sources

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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

Data gaps

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CONCERN REFERENCE
5422 studies in PubMed science library may include information on the toxicity of this chemicalNLM PubMed

Cancer

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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

Ecotoxicology

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CONCERN REFERENCE
Not suspected to be an environmental toxinEnvironment Canada Domestic Substance List

Organ system toxicity (non-reproductive)

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CONCERN REFERENCE
Classified as not expected to be potentially toxic or harmfulEnvironment Canada Domestic Substance List

Persistence and bioaccumulation

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CONCERN REFERENCE
Not suspected to be persistentEnvironment Canada Domestic Substance List
Not suspected to be bioaccumulativeEnvironment Canada Domestic Substance List
  • Open scientific/peer reviewed literature
  • Health Canada. 2007. List of Prohibited and Restricted Cosmetic Ingredients. Canada's Cosmetic Ingredient Hotlist. March 2007.
  • 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). 2008. EAFUS [Everything Added to Food]: A Food Additive Database. FDA Office of Food Safety and Applied Nutrition.
  • 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.
  • NLM (National Library of Medicine). 2012. PubMed online scientific bibliography data. http://www.pubmed.gov.
  • 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).
  • EC (Environment Canada). 2008. Domestic Substances List Categorization. Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA) Environmental Registry.

Understanding scores

Cosmetics and personal care products are not required to be tested for safety before being allowed on the market. The Skin Deep® scoring system was designed to help the public understand whether a product is safe to use or whether it contains ingredients of concern.

Every product and ingredient in Skin Deep gets a two-part score – one for hazard and one for data availability. The safest products score well by both measures, with a low hazard rating and a fair or better data availability rating.

HOW WE DETERMINE SCORES

Hazard score

The Skin Deep ingredient hazard score, from 1 to 10, reflects known and suspected hazards linked to the ingredients. The EWG VERIFIED™ mark means a product meets EWG’s strictest criteria for transparency and health.

Score legend

Data availability

The Skin Deep data availability rating reflects the number of scientific studies about the product or ingredient in the published scientific literature.

NONE LIMITED FAIR GOOD ROBUST
Low Availability
Moderate Availability
High Availability

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