Ingredient Database

ToxicFree Foundation / Ingredient Database / Nitrosamines
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    What is it?

    Nitrosamines are impurities that can show up in a wide array of cosmetics ingredients—including diethanolamine (DEA) and triethanolamine (TEA)—and products. The U.K.’s Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform characterizes nitrosamines as toxic in more animal species than any other category of chemical carcinogen. While common in cosmetics, nitrosamines are not listed on product labels because they are impurities.



    See Nitrosating Agents (

    Key Information

    • Found unsafe and banned in Canada.

    More Information

    Health Concerns

    Cancer: Numerous studies and databases link nitrosamines to cancer. They are listed as possible or known human carcinogens by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the International Agency for Research on Cancer [4] and the U.S. National Toxicology Program. Several other databases cite strong to moderate evidence regarding the cancer-causing properties of nitrosamines.

    Endocrine disruption: There is some evidence of endocrine disruption at very low doses.

    Organ system toxicity: N-nitrosoethanolamine (NDELA), one form of nitrosamine, accumulates in the liver, bladder and other organs and leads to chronic toxic health effects. It is readily absorbed through the skin. Studies have also linked nitrosamines to developmental or reproductive toxicity, immunotoxicity, neurotoxicity and systemic toxicity.


    This ingredient is commonly used in: