From Mineral Oil & Multiple Sclerosis To Plastics, Nanoparticles, Public, Animal & Environmental Health

So called USP Grade mineral oil/petroleum jelly (old name liquid paraffin) is sold in pharmacies across the U.S. It is a petroleum-derived product liberally applied to babies, in many sun-screens and often used over the entire body after showering in the belief that this is good for the human skin. From a chemical point of view, mineral oil/petroleum jelly is a “purified” mixture of long-chained saturated hydrocarbons (also known as alkanes or paraffin), solids and liquids of general formula (CnH2n+2) obtained from refining petrol, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) being of growing public health concern (1). Questions are being raised about the potential adverse consequences of using mineral oil on our skin (2). The USP petroleum jelly does not pass the test of the European Pharmacopoeia and yet it complies with the American Pharmacopoeia norms according to one French cosmetics company (3).

Mineral oil is marketed in different grades. The least “purified/refined” is “technical” grade used to lubricate engines and equipment. The World Health Organization (WHO) has found that this unpurified form contains contaminants that have been linked in studies to an increased risk of cancer. A 2011 report by the National Toxicology Program stated, “Untreated and mildly treated mineral oils are known to be human carcinogens based on sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity from studies in humans.” (4). Cosmetics use a more purified “cosmetic grade” mineral oil. Studies have not linked this oil with cancer, But in a 20110 study researchers stated, “There is strong evidence that mineral oil hydrocarbons are the greatest contaminant of the human body, amounting to approximately 1 gram per person. Possible routes of contamination include air inhalation, food intake, and dermal [skin] absorption.”(5).

Johnson’s Baby Oil, widely marketed, has posted this advertisement: Johnson’s® Baby Oil | 5-Step Safety Process‎ Ad‎

Locks In More Moisture, And Helps Relieve Baby’s Dry Skin. Fewer Ingredients. Easy-To-Use Pumps. No Dyes. No Sulfates. 50% Fewer Ingredients. No Phthalates. Simple & Gentle Formulas. No Parabens. Types: Baby Lotion, Baby Wash, Baby Oil, Baby Creamy Oil, Baby Hand & Face Wipes

Parabens, which have anti-microbial properties, and phthalates, which make plastics pliable, are in many plastic materials used to hold food and beverages and are now polluting aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems as well as our own bodies. As known endocrine disruptors and possible carcinogens they are one of the regrettable legacies of the “age of chemistry”.

In the poultry industry, plain mineral oil can also be swabbed onto the feet of chickens infected with scaly mites on the shank, toes, and webs. Mineral oil suffocates these tiny parasites. In humans it may block sebaceous glands and cause acne. The common practice of using mineral oil or petroleum jelly ( Vaseline) on wounds in humans may actually interfere with normal wound healing processes and increase the possibility of infection (6)

After a friend told me she has showered every day and then anointed herself all over with mineral oil “as long as she can remember” and in mid-life developed multiple sclerosis, I thought that there may be a connection between her long-term daily absorption of PAHs from the mineral oil and her neurological disease. With the best intentions my daughter Mara’s mother coated her with vitamin D-depriving sunscreen every time she went out and she was an outdoor girl, swimming and hiking.

In her mid- twenties she developed MS. But this was soon after her immune system was bombarded with vaccinations for her 3-Peaks in 3-Weeks mountain climbing experience in East Africa. And that means addressing, before the genetic and pharmaceutical treatment thereof, the most probable environmental sources. Inorganic adjuvants are contained within vaccines, including aluminum and mercury. The presence of other metallic nanoparticles is likely the result of polluted components or processes used in the creation of the vaccines according to the researchers. (7) They found metallic particles of aluminum, silicon, magnesium, titanium, iron, chromium, calcium, lead, tungsten, stainless steel, nickel, gold, silver, zirconium, hafnium, strontium, platinum and bismuth in vaccines manufactured in Europe. These controversial findings concluded with the opinion that these “investigations revealed that some particles are embedded in a biological substrate, probably proteins, endo-toxins and residues of bacteria. As soon as a particle comes in contact with proteic fluids, a nano-bio-interaction occurs and a “protein corona” is formed. The nano-bio-interaction generates a bigger-sized compound that is not biodegradable and can induce adverse effects, since it is not recognized as self by the body”.

When injected directly into tissue these particles become even more dangerous because they bypass normal digestive and respiratory filters, trapping the particles in the tissue and sometimes resulting in a permanent inflammatory effect.

Polymer nanoparticles have even been developed by other scientists exploring their use as plastic antibodies to seize dangerous materials in the body. (8). Many new vaccines and cancer and other drug-delivery treatments are also being developed using constructed nanoparticles.

As a veterinarian I am familiar with demyelinating diseases like canine distemper and suspect that lipophilic—fat seeking—and hydrophobic—water-repelling petrochemicals in mineral oil may damage the insulating fatty myelin sheath over the nerves, a process called demyelinization. I checked with one of several manufacturers of USP Grade mineral oil in the U.S. and found that it was tested for PAHs and sulfur compounds. (9). I wonder what other petrochemicals were not identified or known in this complex petrochemical “mineral oil”. Regardless of how much or little of these derivative chemicals are present at all, they are permitted at levels of toxicity tolerance determined by industrial toxicologists, law and policy makers and American standards of purity are lower than those in Europe. Is there any consideration of bioaccumulation as the human body absorbs these hydrocarbons and fat solvents?

Many PAHs have toxic, mutagenic and/or carcinogenic properties (10). PAHs are highly lipid soluble and thus readily absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract of mammals. They are rapidly distributed in a wide variety of tissues with a marked tendency for localization in body fat. Metabolism of PAHs occurs via the cytochrome P450-mediated mixed function oxidase system with oxidation or hydroxylation as the first step. The oxidative impact on cells may cause a pathological opening of the permeability transition pore and cause mitochondrial dysfunction which may lead to MS that may not be simply an autoimmune disease. (11).

The plausible hypothesis that there will be a significant decline in the incidence and severity of multiple sclerosis and other neurodegenerative diseases and neuromas when governments limit the consumer use of mineral oil and advise strongly against frequent cutaneous application should be put to the test. Like some other demyelinating neuropathies, multiple sclerosis is a multifactor, pluricausal disease for which there is no solution beyond applying the precautionary principle of best prevention first. For instance, individuals exposed to paint, varnish, and other solvents are 50% more likely to develop multiple sclerosis. Individuals who carry genes making them more susceptible to multiple sclerosis that have been exposed are 7 times more likely to develop MS, if those same individuals have been smokers the risk is 30 times higher. (12). Public health and consumer and environmental protection go hand in hand but are too often divided by vested interests and conflicting values and opinions.

After reading several other research reports (notably refs 13-17) on petrochemical products from a host of items from plastic water bottles, grocery bags and styrofoam cups and packing materials to disposable pens and lighters it is evident that they are pervasive and a top environmental and public health issue. Polystyrene plastic cups break down into small particles that become a magnet for toxic chemicals such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in PAH polluted sea and fresh water. Plastics disintegrate into microparticles, now present in many drinking water sources, and in to nanoparticles that can pass though the gut wall and possibly cross the blood-brain barrier. The two components in plastics that experts are most concerned about are phthalates and bisphenol-A (BPA), which are often referred to as endocrine disruptors because of their ability to affect estrogen and testosterone levels in humans. They also appear to have the potential to impact the development of the brain and reproductive organs in developing fetuses. Used to produce polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins, BPA is found in many drinking containers, the lining of most food and beverage cans (including soda cans), bottle caps, plastic cutlery, plastic food storage containers, toys, dental sealants, some dental composites, water pipes, eyeglass lenses, and more.

The source of many anthropogenic diseases from obesity and dysbiosis to multiple sclerosis and cancer, may well come from these kinds of petroleum products along with micro- and nanoparticles in the air we breathe from multiple sources including coal-fired power plants, gasoline-driven vehicle exhaust and from plastic-containing garbage incineration. To these we should add indoor microfiber particle “dust” from synthetic carpet and upholstery materials (generally treated with endocrine-disrupting flame -retardant chemicals because they are highly inflammable), which also contaminate the environment via the laundry wastewater from synthetic clothing materials. Run-off from roofing and road and parking lot materials can be added to the “dirty laundry” facing many communities. Plastic sheeting used over soils in gardening, landscaping and food crop production to control weeds poses a leaching problem calling for environmental and food safety determinations. Plastic-derived and other nanoparticles in the air, rain and irrigation water contaminate our food crops, sea foods and livestock feed and thus enter the food chain and much of the food we consume.


In a 2018 report, The Future of Petrochemicals from the International Energy Agency ( the plastics manufacturing industry is seen as becoming the biggest user of fossil fuels and some 100 million metric tons now pollute the oceans. Without curtailing such pollution and with rising demand for plastics, life on Earth will be compromised since over half of atmospheric oxygen is generated by marine plankton currently at risk from these and other petrochemicals in their environment. (

These founders of the aquatic food chain along with coral reefs are also at risk from sea water acidification due to high levels of carbon dioxide produced mainly from the burning of fossil fuels. Forest fires associated with habitat and climate change add to the problem of rising carbon dioxide and lower oxygen levels. Phytoplankton are decimated by agrichemical-runoff, herbicides in particular, and also by microplastics. (see

Low oxygen levels in major cities have recently been reported. Climate change*, one aspect of a looming global eco-crisis, includes changes in atmospheric gases that support life and shield from harmful solar rays. The Guardian newspaper reported (

“Currently the oxygen content of the Earth’s atmosphere dips to 19% over impacted areas, and it is down to 12 to 17% over the major cities. At these levels it is difficult for people to get sufficient oxygen to maintain bodily health: it takes a proper intake of oxygen to keep body cells and organs, and the entire immune system, functioning at full efficiency. At the levels we have reached today cancers and other degenerative diseases are likely to develop. And at 6 to 7% life can no longer be sustained.”

Marine mammals and other ocean-dependent wildlife are washing up on our shores showing signs of extreme malnourishment as well as toxic pollution. Their condition, along with weakened immune systems and reduced fertility may be primarily due to microplastics contaminating and killing off zooplankton, the foundation of their food chain. (

(* For a scientific consensus in rising global temperature see Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, 8 October 2018 Summary for Policymakers of IPCC Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5ºC approved by governments).

Common plastics emit greenhouse gases such as methane and ethylene as they degrade in the environment. Sunlight triggers the breakdown of plastic, but once the process starts, greenhouse gas emissions continue in the dark. All of the polymers tested give off methane, one of the most potent greenhouse gases, and ethylene, which contributes to carbon monoxide formation in the atmosphere. Low-density polyethylene, the most commonly used form of plastic worldwide (it’s used in plastic grocery bags), is the highest emitter of both gases. Microplastics in the ocean may be, ounce for ounce, the worst form of plastic where greenhouse gas emissions are concerned. (18)

Collectively these various petrochemical products represent one of the most harmful contributions of the chemical industry to health and life because the issues of containment and safe disposal have never been considered. Such consideration is most urgent the planet’s detoxification and our recovery from the Industrial Age of Chemistry with its adverse impacts on environmental and public health. The growing recognition of such anthropogenic factors in the genesis of “diseases of civilization” and ecological and physiological dysbiosis has spawned the One Health concept and movement in medical and veterinary practice, teaching and research (19). We must quickly create and expand alternative products based on eco-friendly biochemical processes such as contained bio-fermentation and biosynthesis, bio-remediation, sustainable biofuels and other alternative energy sources and natural clothing and other materials derived from cotton, hemp etc. that are recyclable and biodegrade into non-toxic components. Efforts local and international to recover plastic materials from all contaminated terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems (20) need to be initiated for the common good. This monumental task calls for a United Environmental Nations Organization that bases free and fair trade and commerce on ecological principles of sustainability and environmental and public health.

** Email Website


Large pieces of plastic in manufactured pet foods occur on occasion and have resulted in nation-wide pet food recalls. But microparticles of plastic may be in many pet foods because the plastic wrappings and packaging around discarded meat and poultry products no longer fresh enough for human consumption are recycled, rendered and subsequently included in pet foods and also livestock and poultry feed. Plastics have even been fed to cattle as a substitute for fiber to ostensibly improve digestion.

As with human foods and beverages in plastic containers, leaching from the plastic pet food bags and liners call for immediate pet food industry attention. (For details see Which Plastics Are Safe? | Care2 Healthy Living

On Sept. 21, 2012 posted that plastics may be applied directly on to pet foods as a preservative since Hill’s Pet Nutrition has been provided with a patent for “a composition comprising a physically discrete pet food oral intake composition with a physically stable film…”This patent…invention is “a method for increasing the shelf life…or protects the composition from bacterial growth…” “For example these include a dry pet food comprising kibbles, bits, any other discrete materials, solid treat, supplements and the like, and even “chunks” in a chunk and gravy wet diet assuming the film can be properly applied to the chunk in the food processing and remain stable in the liquid environment of the container.—- The chemical used in coating the pet food is a polymer which should be physically stable during the process of its application and also stable during its lifetime on the pet food composition surface while being subjected to any further processing steps. Examples of these polymers include zein, casein, starch(es), cellulose(s), gum(s), gelatin, starch/synthetic polymer(s), e.g starch/low density polyethylene, and the like..” ( My emphasis on polyethylene added! For details see US20050147651A1 - Coated pet food composition - Google Patents


Triclosan (TCS) is a high-volume chemical used as an antimicrobial ingredient in more than 2000 consumer products, such as toothpaste, cosmetics, kitchenware, children’s and dogs’ toys, beds and shampoos. It is also incorporated into plastic pet food bag liners and in plastic meat and poultry wrapping which can finish up in pet foods. Scientists recently reported that brief exposure to TCS, at relatively low doses, causes low-grade colonic inflammation, increases colitis, and exacerbates colitis-associated colon cancer in mice. ( H. Yang el al., “A common antimicrobial additive increases colonic inflammation and colitis-associated colon tumorigenesis in mice,” Science Translational Medicine 30 May 2018: Vol. 10, Issue 443, eaan4116 DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.aan4116).

These research findings add yet another concern to what may cause dysbiosis and inflammatory bowel disease in dogs and cats as well as humans. It is an accountability call to pet food manufacturers to stipulate to their ingredient-providers that all plastic wrappings on discarded meat and poultry parts are removed before processing, plastic liners of dry pet foods and wrapping of frozen pet foods are TCS-free. Chronic exposure and ingestion of TCS may also contribute to skin and thyroid problems and food allergies.

(For more background information on this antibiotic see Pat Thomas, The Dawn of the domestic superbug - The Ecologist and

Triclosan - Wikipedia


Bisphenyl-A in the lining of canned pet foods to stop rusting has been linked with thyroid disease in companion animals, along with the chemical flame retardants in the carpets, sofas and dust of their home environments, toxic flame retardants being called for because these synthetic petrochemical materials are highly flammable.


A review on polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons

3 Key Reasons to Avoid Mineral Oil - Be Well by Dr. Frank Lipman

The purity that makes the difference - In-Cosmetics

However, the requirement level of the French Codex. Pharmacopoeia … Unlike vegetal and mineral oils, petroleum jelly retains its moisturising capacity …… tolerance. The French Codex Pharmacopoeia is considerably more demanding than the others in relation to the following purities: - the test for PAH(Polycyclic Aromatic.

National Toxicology Program, “Mineral Oils: Untreated and Mildly Treated,” Report on Carcinogens, Twelfth Edition (2011), Washington DC , Department of Health and Human Services.

Concin N, et al., “Evidence for cosmetics as a source of mineral oil contamination in women,” J Womens Health Nov; 20(11):1713-9.

Fraser L Macrae et al (2018) A fibrin biofilm covers the blood clot and protects from microbial invasion. The Journal of Cinical Investigation . (See also interface using mineral oil or petroleum jelly also prevented film formation (Supplemental …… Y.P., Hook, M., David, T., Coughlin, S.R., et al. 2015.).

Gatti AM, Montanari S (2016) New Quality-Control Investigations on Vaccines: Micro- and Nanocontamination. Int J Vaccines Vaccin 4(1): 00072. DOI: 10.15406/ijvv.2017.04.00072

Lauren M Graham, Thao M Nguyen, and Sang Bok Lee. Nanodetoxification: emerging role of nanomaterials in drug intoxication treatment Nanomedicine (Lond). 2011 Jul; 6(5): 921–928.doi: 10.2217/nnm.11.75

The Molecular Perspective: Polycyclic Aromatic … - The Oncologist by DS Goodsell - ‎2004 - ‎Cited by 8 - ‎Related articles

The Molecular Perspective: Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons. David S. Goodsell. David S.Goodsell, Ph.D., Associate Professor, The Scripps Research Institute, … Smoking is an unlikely method for delivery of small molecules. After all, it burns up most of your material. However, smoking is prevalent …

Mitochondrial dysfunction and neurodegeneration in multiple sclerosis

by K Su - ‎2013 - ‎Cited by 40 - ‎Related articles

Many avenues of research indicate that a neurodegenerative process may also play a significant role in MS from the early stages of disease, and one of the … Another unique class of mitochondria-targeting compounds includes the Szeto-Schiller (SS) peptides, which have an aromatic-cationic motif that allows them to be …

H. I. Zeliger Exposure to lipophilic chemicals as a cause of neurological …

The lipophiles can also be intermediate-lived species, including polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), bisphenol A (BPA) and phthalates, which can … NIs associated with lipophilic chemical exposure include central nervous system disorders (cognitive, motor and sensory), as well as peripheral ….

Anna Karin Hedström, Ola Hössjer, Michail Katsoulis, Ingrid Kockum, Tomas Olsson, Lars Alfredsson. Organic solvents and MS susceptibility Interaction with MS risk HLA genes. Neurology, 2018 DOI: 10.1212/WNL.0000000000005906

Polystyrene Plastic: A Source and Sink for Polycyclic Aromatic …

Feb 27, 2018 - Download citation | Polystyrene Plastic:… | Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) on virgin polystyrene (PS) and PS marine debris led us to examine PS as a source and sink for PAHs in the marine environment. At two locations in San Diego Bay, we measured sorption of PAHs to PS pellets, sampl..

Plastic pollution doesn’t just hurt marine species. It’s also harmful to people. As plastic debris floats in the seawater, it absorbs dangerous pollutants like PCBs, DDT and PAH. These chemicals are highly toxic and have a wide range of chronic effects, including endocrine disruption and cancer-causing mutations.

Ocean Plastics Pollution - Center for Biological Diversity

Deborah S. Jacobs et al. Surface degradation and nanoparticle release of a commercial nanosilica/polyurethane coating under UV exposure, Journal of Coatings Technology and Research (2016). DOI: 10.1007/s11998-016-9796-2

Brain damage and behavioural disorders in fish induced by plastic …

by K Mattsson - Sep 13, 2017 - Once in the aquatic environment, plastic material breaks up into smaller pieces through the action of sunlight, waves, living organisms in the water and by the water itself, Eventually plastic material is broken down to nanoparticles–, which may be an even more potent threat since plastic nanoparticles are able to pass through biological barriers, penetrate tissues and ..

Microplastics and nanoplastics in food – an emerging issue … Jun 23, 2016 - EFSA has taken a first step towards a future assessment of the potential risks to consumers from microplastics and nanoplastics in food, especially seafood. … Dr Peter Hollman was a member of the working group that helped EFSA’s Panel on Contaminants in the Food Chain (CONTAM) to …

Royer S.-J. et al. “Production of methane and ethylene from plastic in the environment.” PLoS ONE. 2018.

Fox, M.W. Healing Animals & the Vision of One Health. Create Space Books/ 2011.

To the widely publicized discovery of a mass of ocean plastic twice the size of the state of Texas we must add data indicating the equivalent of more than four Mount Everests worth of terrestrial trash: SeeRoland Geyer, Jenna R. Jambeck and Kara Lavender Law, Production, use, and fate of all plastics ever made Science Advances 19 Jul 2017: Vol. 3, no. 7, e1700782 DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1700782

Abstract: Plastics have outgrown most man-made materials and have long been under environmental scrutiny. However, robust global information, particularly about their end-of-life fate, is lacking. By identifying and synthesizing dispersed data on production, use, and end-of-life management of polymer resins, synthetic fibers, and additives, we present the first global analysis of all mass-produced plastics ever manufactured. We estimate that 8300 million metric tons (Mt) as of virgin plastics have been produced to date. As of 2015, approximately 6300 Mt of plastic waste had been generated, around 9% of which had been recycled, 12% was incinerated, and 79% was accumulated in landfills or the natural environment. If current production and waste management trends continue, roughly 12,000 Mt of plastic waste will be in landfills or in the natural environment by 2050.

Plastic wrap made from shellfish and plants is completely compostable

By spraying alternating layers of the chitin and cellulose infused solution, researchers found they could make the layers fuse to one another and form one single, resilient film. Source: Satam, et. al. “Spray-Coated Multilayer Cellulose Nanocrystal—Chitin Nanofiber Films for Barrier Applications.” ACS Chemistry & Engineering. 2018.