Is Disodium Laureth Sulfosuccinate Harmful?

Disodium laureth sulfosuccinate is not harmful or potentially toxic, says Environmental Working Group. It is not suspected to be an environmental toxin or to accumulate in organisms. It is not considered to be a health concern related to allergies and immunotoxicity conditions, cancer, or developmental and reproductive issues.

Some people have an adverse skin reaction to cosmetic products that contain substances called surfactants, explains am article in "Contact Dermatitis." In one study eight different surfactants, including disodium laureth sulfosuccinate, were applied to the forearms of 12 volunteers over a two week period. Clinical assessment revealed that they caused varying degrees of irritation.

Disodium laureth sulfosuccinate may be contaminated with 1.4 dioxane or ethylene oxide, according to Environmental Working Group. At high levels 1.4 dioxane causes a variety of health problems, and a study by the National Cancer Institute found increased incidences of cancers in rats and mice exposed to it, notes the Environmental Protection Agency. Ethylene oxide causes adverse reactions at low levels over long time periods, and data have indicated possible cancer risks related to exposure.

Disodium laureth sulfosuccinate is a surfactant, a cleansing agent that boosts foaming in cosmetic products, such as shampoo, notes Joe Schwaroz in The Washington Post. Surfactants are "surface-active agents" that provide lathering properties and cleaning action. Modern soaps and synthetic detergents often contain sodium lauryl sulfate or one of various related compounds.