Disodium EDTA is frequently found in ingredients lists of personal care products, manufactured foods and beverages, cleaning supplies, cosmetics, and skin care products. Disodium EDTA also has extensive industrial, medical and engineering applications and is one of the most important and widely used chemical compounds in modern human society.

The Chemistry of Disodium EDTA

Disodium EDTA has the chemical formula of [CH2N(CH2CO2H)2]2, the molecular formula of C10H16N2O8, and is a major chelating agent from which all of its applications extend from. It has high affinity to free metal ions, a common pollutant and impurity in many chemical environments. As an example, when we clean something with soap or wash our laundry, there is a chemical reaction between the detergent, the organic dirt, and the water that provides an aqueous solution environment for the chemical reaction of "cleaning" to occur. However, many impurities and free metal ions and minerals in tap water makes the performance of detergents less effective and inconsistent across geographies with varying water quality. Disodium EDTA as a chelating agent helps bind the free radicals and impurities, allowing the major ingredients in detergents to work effectively and consistently without excessive "chemical disturbance."

What Common Products Contain Disodium EDTA?

Disodium EDTA is commonly found in a wide range of personal care products, including contact solution, eye drops, shower and bath products, skin care preparations and cosmetics. It is also used as a preservative and stabilizer in many processed foods and beverages.

What Medical Practices Involve Disodium EDTA?

Medical and laboratory uses for disodium EDTA include chelating therapy, where EDTA cleanses bodies of excess iron, mercury and other heavy metals; in blood testing and blood transfusions as anticoagulant; in cell proliferation analysis to keep cells separate from each other; in dental and ophthalmology practices to prime sites for surgery. Disodium EDTA is an important agent in many medical uses and thus it isn't surprising to expect exposure to this chemical compound if you frequent clinics and medical laboratories for tests and treatments listed such as these.

What Other Arenas of Human Productivity Utilizes Disodium EDTA?

Other than products that come into direct human contact, disodium EDTA is also found in cleaning supplies, such as laundry detergent, as a water softener and detergent enhancer and in industrial supplies for the maintenance, cleaning and priming of equipment and machinery. Disodium EDTA is essential in the textiles and paper pulp industry in bleaching and maintaining colors and dyes.

Health Hazards Related to Disodium EDTA

Disodium EDTA has become a topic of interest because of many pro-natural organizations claims that it causes toxicity in mammals. However, in products regulated by the FDA, levels of disodium EDTA is too low to cause direct harm when products are used as directed. The only time to be ultra aware of disodium EDTA content is in processed foods and beverages, where disodium EDTA in reaction with active and unstable ingredients like Vitamin C and sodium Bicarbonate (baking soda) forms benzenes, a potent carcinogen. Also, EDTA is becoming an environmental pollutant due to large quantities used in industrial applications, medical applications and manufacturing.

How to Identify Disodium EDTA

Disodium EDTA should always be listed in the ingredients disclaimer of products that come into direct contact with skin or for oral ingestion. Thought it does not need to be approved to be added to food, it may be listed in several ways, including EDTA, EDTA disodium, disodium; Disodium EDTA Violet 2, Disodium EDTE, and Disodiume EDTA.