Benzyl Alcohol; Benzyl Alcohols
(in 9,806 products)

Potential Risk Index®:

ISCE InhaleISCE SwallowISCE ContactISCE Environment
PRI Legend


1. Bacteriostatic Agent - Prevents, slows or inhibits bacteria growth
2. Drug / Medicine - Used to treat, alleviate, cure or prevent sickness. As officially declared by a governmental drug/medicine regulatory body
3. Fragrance / Fragrance Component - Provides or enhances a particular smell or odor.
4. Insecticide / Pesticide - Kills or inhibits unwanted organisms
5. Preservative - Prevents and inhibits the growth of unwanted microorganisms which may be harmful
6. Viscosity Controlling Agent - Maintains or alters the thickness of a liquid, mostly used in cosmetics
Benzyl alcohol is produced naturally by many plants and is commonly found in fruits and teas. It is also found in a variety of essential oils including jasmine, hyacinth, and ylang-ylang.
Benzyl alcohol is an ingredient used in the manufacture of soaps, topical creams, skin lotions, shampoos, and facial cleansers and is popular due to its anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties. It is a common ingredient in a variety of household products. It is also used as a solvent in food due to it low polarity, low toxicity, and low vapor pressure.
It is approved to use as food additive and cosmetics in EU. [1] [2]
Recent Findings:
Benzyl alcohol is shown to be fairly toxic when as an intravitreal (eye) injection to rabbits, it also showed a high toxicity level in mice. [3] [4]
The withdrawal of benzyl alcohol as a bateriostatic (ingredients that prevent the growth of, but does not kill bacteria) in infant injections also reduced the risk of "the gasping syndrome". This shows the use of benzyl alcohol as an antibacterial preservative may need to be reassessed. [4] [5]
In a sample size of around 440 infants, it was found that benzyl alcohol is strongly linked to the incidence of kernicterus (a form of brain damage). The study concluded with patients who are not exposed to benzyl alcohol have a "greatly reduced risk of kernicterus". [6]
However, in a dermal study involving adults, benzyl alcohol was found to have no side effects with the suggestion that products containing up to 10% benzyl alcohol may be used. [7]
A separate study showed the effectiveness of benzyl alcohol when used with lidocaine (a type of dental anesthetic). In a study of 20 subjects, the benzyl alcohol and lidocaine combination proved to be 27% less painful and a 29% increase in anesthetic duration compared to lidocaine alone. [8]
It can be tentatively deduced that benzyl alcohol, like most alcohols, has an adverse effect on brain development, and its effects are particularly pronounced on infants. The toxicity of benzyl alcohol on adults is far more benign, while helping to boost the effects of other medication.
EU CosIng Annex III Restriction Information:
(EC) No 344/2013
Product Type, body parts:
(a) Solvent
(b) Fragrance/ aromatic compositions/ their raw materials
For purposes other than inhibiting the development of microorganisms in the product. This purpose has to be apparent from the presentation of the product.
(b) The presence of the substance must be indicated in the list of ingredients referred to in Article 19(1)(g) when its concentration exceeds: — 0,001 % in leave-on products — 0,01 % in rinse-off products.
Scientific References:
3. Intravitreal toxicity of the kenalog vehicle (benzyl alcohol) in rabbits (Retina. 2006, Mar; 26(3):339-44)
4. Toxicity of benzyl alcohol in adult and neonatal mice (J Pharm Sci. 1986, Jul; 75(7):702-5)
5. The gasping syndrome and benzyl alcohol poisoning (N Engl J Med. 1982, Nov 25; 307(22):1384-8)
6. Relationship of benzyl alcohol to kernicterus, intraventricular hemorrhage, and mortality in preterm infants (Pediatrics. 1989, Feb; 83(2):153-60)
7. Final report on the safety assessment of Benzyl Alcohol, Benzoic Acid, and Sodium Benzoate (Int J Toxicol. 2001;20 Suppl 3:23-50)
8. Benzyl alcohol attenuates the pain of lidocaine injections and prolongs anesthesia (J Dermatol Surg Oncol. 1994, Nov; 20(11):730-3)
Regulatory References:
- Ref: III/45
- Ref: V/34
4. US FDA Food Additives Status List [2018]
- Substances Added to Food (formerly EAFUS)
- §172.515 / §175.105 / §175.300 / §177.1210
5. US FDA Color Additives Status List [2015]
- §73.1001
6. EU Approved Food Additive [2018]
- E1519
7. Japan’s List of Designated Food Additives under Article 10 of the Food Sanitation Act
- Benzyl Alcohol
8. International Fragrance Association Transparency List [2015]

Safety and Hazards (UN GHS):

1. Harmful if swallowed (H302)
2. Harmful in contact with skin (H312)
3. Causes serious eye irritation (H319)
4. Toxic if inhaled (H331)
5. Harmful if inhaled (H332)

Potential Health Concerns For:

1. Dermatitis, Irritant (PubMed ID:22906572)
2. Drug Hypersensitivity (PubMed ID:19554478)
3. Hypotension (PubMed ID:15662287)
4. Paraplegia (PubMed ID:6688295)
5. Radiculopathy (PubMed ID:6688295)

Potential Health Benefits For:

1. Arrhythmias, Cardiac (PubMed ID:15539341)

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