What They Are
Butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) and butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) are closely related chemicals that are commonly used as preservatives. These can be found in many personal care products including lip and hair products, makeup, sunscreen, shampoos, deodorants, fragrance, and creams. BHT and BHA are also in many food products, such as cereals, snack foods, and processed meats, and can even be found in in the lining of food packages. BHT is also a toluene-based ingredient; toluene is part of the so-called “toxic trio” commonly found in nail polish and is linked to reproductive harm.
The Health Concerns
BHT and BHA are chemical cousins linked to a wide range of health concerns, including organ system toxicity, skin irritation, and more. The National Toxicology Program classifies BHA as “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen.” Plus, the European Commission on Endocrine Disruption has listed BHA as a Category 1 endocrine disruptor, meaning there’s comprehensive evidence of endocrine disrupting effects. BHA has been linked to reproductive and developmental toxicity and also been identified on California’s Proposition 65 list as a possible carcinogen.
How to Avoid Them
- Read labels to avoid BHT (butylated hydroxytoleune) and BHA (butulated hydroxyanisole).
- Choose food products that do not contain artificial preservatives like BHA and BHT, and eat fresh food instead of packaged food when you can.