Butane sources, health risks

Wednesday, October 18, 2017 by

Butane, also known as tertiary buthylhydroquinone (TBHQ), is a synthetic antioxidant that is used to prolong the shelf life of oily and fatty foods.

Butane is a chemical compound that is colorless and flammable and also faintly smells like petroleum. The compound in which the carbon atoms are associated in a straight chain is denoted normal butane or n-butane; the branched-chain form is isobutane. These compounds are found in natural gas and in crude oil. They are formed in large amounts in the refinement of petroleum to produce gasoline. N-butane can be added to gasoline to increase its volatility. When transformed to isobutane in a refinery process known as isomerization, it can be reacted with certain other hydrocarbons such as butylene to form valuable high-octane constituents of gasoline. This compound has a chemical formula of C4H10.

TBHQ is sprayed on processed foods or on its packaging to avoid discoloration and changes to flavor and odor. It is commonly found in frozen, packaged or pre-made processed foods with long shelf lives such as frozen meals, crackers, chips, cereal bars, and fast foods. Moreover, it is used in products such as cosmetics, perfumes, varnishes, and lacquers to maintain stability. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has set a limitation on the amount of TBHQ. The chemical should only be 0.02 percent of the oils in a food because there is no sufficient evidence on how safe it is if consumed in larger amounts.

Harmful effects that can be caused by butane

Butane can cause several harmful effects in the body. A comprehensive government study revealed that TBHQ increased the occurrence of tumors in mice, according to the Centers for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI). Moreover, experiences of vision disturbances have been reported when humans consume the additive, according to the National Library of Medicine (NLM). In addition, several studies found that consumption of the additive resulted to enlargement of the liver, neurotoxic effects, convulsions, and paralysis in laboratory animals.

The additive may also be harmful to human behavior. According to the Feingold Association of the United States, the additive should be avoided for those who struggle with their behavior. The organization promotes the Feingold diet which is a dietary approach to handling attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Although there is a limit on the intake of TBHQ, some studies found that people in the United States are consuming more than the recommended amount. An evaluation of the World Health Organization found that people in the U.S. consume an average of about 0.62 milligrams per kilograms of body weight, which is about 90 percent more of the acceptable daily intake. Those who eat high-fat diets consume twice as much as the average TBHQ consumers.

Body systems harmed by butane

There are a few body system that can be harmed by butane. One of these is its negative effect on the brain and nervous system. A study in 2012, published in the Journal of Attention Disorders, suggested that consumption of beverages rich in sodium benzoate or preservatives such as butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT), butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA), and TBHQ, may be linked to ADHD symptoms in college students.

Where to learn more

Summary

Butane or TBHQ is a synthetic antioxidant that is used to prolong the shelf life of oily and fatty foods. It is a chemical compound that is colorless, flammable, and slightly smells like petroleum. TBHQ is sprayed on processed foods or on its packaging to avoid discoloration and changes to flavor and odor. It is usually found in frozen, packaged or pre-made processed foods with long shelf lives such as frozen meals, crackers, chips, cereal bars, and fast foods. It is also used in products such as cosmetics, perfumes, varnishes, and lacquers to maintain stability.

Butane can cause vision disturbances, enlargement of the liver, neurotoxic effects, convulsions, and paralysis. People with ADHD should also avoid foods that contain this preservative.

Sources include:

LiveStrong.com

Britannica.com

LiveScience.com

HealthLine.com



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