What is Diethanolamine?

Functional properties of diethanolamine

DEA is an organic compound synthesized from the reaction of ethylene oxide and ammonia and has been produced in large industrial quantities since the early 1930s. This chemical compound at room temperature is a clear, moisture-absorbing liquid that absorbs moisture from the air, or a white crystalline solid that can produce an ammonia-like odor as the temperature rises.

This chemical compound can be used for many commercial purposes, but the most important of them is as a medium moisturizing agent in cosmetics and beauty such as shampoo. Due to this combination, lotions and creams, when mixed with water or spread on the skin surface, create a thick or soft consistency.

Diethanolamine is also used in the production of textiles, medicines and herbicides. One of the important industrial applications is its use as a gas scrubber in the oil and natural gas industries to remove hazardous by-products such as hydrogen sulfide gas produced during refining.

There is controversy over the use of diethanolamine due to its alleged association with cancer. However, the greatest danger to human health is as an element in cosmetics that is applied directly and frequently to the skin.

Research has shown that over time, DEA reacts chemically with other compounds in these products to form a very potent carcinogenic chemical called nitrosodiethanolamine (NDEA). Studies have shown that NDEA is carcinogenic and toxic in 44 different species of experimental animals.

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