Risk assessment of benzalkonium chloride in cosmetic products

Seul Min Choi, Tae Hyun Roh, Duck Soo Lim, Sam Kacew, Hyung Sik Kim, Byung Mu Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


A risk assessment of benzalkonium chloride (BAC) was conducted based upon its toxicological profile and exposure evaluation. Since 1935, BAC has been used in a wide variety of products such as disinfectants, preservatives, and sanitizers. It is well-established that BAC is not genotoxic nor does it display tumorigenic potential, but safety concerns have been raised in local usage such as for ocular and intranasal applications. The Foundation of Korea Cosmetic Industry Institute (KCII) reported that in a hair conditioner manufactured as a cosmetic or personal product in South Korea, BAC was present at concentrations of 0.5–2%. The systemic exposure dosage (SED) was determined using the above in-use concentrations and a risk assessment analysis was conducted. The Margin of Safety (MOS) values for hair conditioners were calculated to be between 621 and 2,483. The risk of certain personal and cosmetic products was also assessed based upon assumptions that BAC was present at the maximal level of regulation in South Korea and that the maximal amount was used. The MOS values for the body lotion were all above 100, regardless of the application site. Collectively, data indicate that there are no safety concerns regarding use of products that contain BAC under the current concentration restrictions, even when utilized at maximal permitted levels. However, a chronic dermal toxicity study on BAC and comprehensive dermal absorption evaluation needs to be conducted to provide a more accurate prediction of the potential health risks to humans.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8-23
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Toxicology and Environmental Health - Part B: Critical Reviews
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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