Toxno Substance Profile
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Substance Name

Propionic acid
Identification Number: CASRN | 79-09-4

  Substance Attributes


  • Metabolic Interference or Disruption

    Interferes with human metabolism. This can be a very serious thing. Some of these interference mechanics are well established. However, often long term effects and health consequences remain largely unknown. Additionally an emerging area of concern and one that is not currently studied, is the combined synergistic effects these metabolically disrupting chemicals have on human health.


    Metabolic interference happens when the substance produces highly reactive and often damaging intermediates during detoxification or when the substance binds to specific enzymes, important structural groups on molecules, receptors and membranes or targets DNA or mimics key nutrients.

  • Exposure Produces Health Symptoms

    Symptoms maybe short term or long term depending on the exposure duration and intensity and effects areas like Cardiovascular, Gastrointestinal, Cognition, Fatigue. A substance with this attribute may cause an allergic skin reaction, serious eye irritation, allergy or asthma symptoms or breathing difficulties if inhaled.

These attributes are ONLY based on peer-reviewed evidence. See link to Data Sources below. Everyone benefits from knowing this stuff. Please Share.



  • CATEGORIES: Food Additives with E Numbers | Preservatives - propionates | Chemicals detected in flowback and produced water - collectively referred to as - hydraulic fracturing wastewater | Household Toxin | Food Toxin | Natural Toxin | Animal Toxin | Food Flavoring | EAFUS (Everything Added to Food in the United States) | PESTICIDE active ingredient | Inert Pesticide Ingredient USA - Non Food Use Only | Inert Pesticide Ingredient USA - FRAGRANCE ( Generally Not used on Food) | Pesticide approved in USA (California) | A Hazardous Substance that may be found in the Australian Workplace
  • SUBSTANCE LINEAGE: Organic Compounds | Organic Acids and Derivatives | Carboxylic Acids and Derivatives | Carboxylic Acids | Carboxylic Acids
  • SYNONYMS: Adofeed | Antischim B | Carboxyethane | Ethanecarboxylate | Ethanecarboxylic acid | Ethylformate | Ethylformic acid | Luprosil | Metacetonate | Metacetonic acid | Methylacetate | Methylacetic acid | MonoProp | Propanate | Propanoate | Propanoic acid | Propcorn | Propionate | Propkorn | Prozoin | Pseudoacetate | Pseudoacetic acid | Toxi-Check
  • DESCRIPTION: E Number: E280 | Food Additives with E Numbers used in Australia, NZ, UK and the EU. Over 400 in total. | Substance has been approved in: Australia and NZ | EU and UK | | Can cause adverse reactions - best to avoid (Food Intolerance Network) | Preservatives - propionates | Fatty acid produced by animals in the process of digestion, but generally manufactures synthetically. Functions as a preservative. | Added to baked goods. | Has been used in CSG, Hydraulic Fracturing Operations (Fracking) as - Unknown | Propionic acid (PA) is widely used as an antifungal agent in food. It is present naturally at low levels in dairy products and occurs ubiquitously, together with other short-chain fatty acids (SCFA), in the gastro-intestinal tract of humans and other mammals as an end-product of the microbial digestion of carbohydrates. It has significant physiological activity in animals. PA is irritant but produces no acute systemic effects and has no demonstrable genotoxic potential. Propionic aciduria is one of the most frequent organic acidurias, a disease that comprise many various disorders. The outcome of patients born with Propionic aciduria is poor intellectual development patterns, with 60% having an IQ less than 75 and requiring special education. Successful liver and/or renal transplantations, in a few patients, have resulted in better quality of life but have not necessarily prevented neurological and various visceral complications. These results emphasize the need for permanent metabolic follow-up whatever the therapeutic strategy. Decreased early mortality, less severe symptoms at diagnosis, and more favorable short-term neurodevelopmental outcome were recorded in patients identified through expanded newborn screening. (A3502, A3503, A3504).
  • COMMENTS:

    From Safe Work Australia and the Hazardous Substances Information System (HSIS) in Australia:

    Causes severe skin burns and eye damage | | A Hazardous Substance that may be found in the Australian Workplace. Check with your employer or health and safety officer. Stay informed and become aware of the dangers that surround you. This chemical is included on the list of recognised hazardous chemicals from the Safe Work Australia - Hazardous Substances Information System (HSIS) that is based on the Globally Harmonised System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS)

    Work Health and Safety (WHS) Regulations are the basis for hazardous chemicals regulations in Commonwealth, State and Territory jurisdictions in Australia. Under the model WHS Regulations, manufacturers and importers of substances, mixtures and articles supplied for use in workplaces are required to determine whether they are hazardous to health and safety before supply. The model WHS Regulations mandate that the hazards of a chemical as determined by the Globally Harmonised System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS) must be included in safety data sheets and on labels. There are transitional arrangements in place for moving to the GHS-based system.

    The GHS Hazardous Chemical Information List contains chemicals classified by an authoritative source (such as the European Commission or NICNAS) in accordance with the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (the GHS). This list contains the vast majority of chemicals currently in HSIS. This list and its detail are regularly updated by Work Safe Australia. The model Work Health and Safety (WHS) Regulations require chemicals to be classified in accordance with the Globally Harmonised System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS). However transitional arrangements allow use of classification information in HSIS derived from the Approved Criteria until the 31 December 2016.
  • toxin chemical structure pubchem
  • FORMULA: C3H6O2
  • DATA SOURCES: DATA SOURCES: T3DB | PubChem | EPA in USA | Flavornet | FSANZ and FSA | EAFUS | DPR | EPA USA - Pesticide Inerts | Safe Work Australia - Hazardous Substances Information System (HSIS)
  • LAST UPDATE: 28/04/2018

  Health Associations

Mostly focused on Health Implications of Long Term Exposure to this substance

  • SYMPTOMS: Propionic acidemia is characterized almost immediately in newborns. Symptoms include poor feeding, vomiting, dehydration, acidosis, low muscle tone (hypotonia), seizures, and lethargy. The effects of propionic acidemia quickly become life-threatening. (Wikipedia)
  • POSSIBLE HEALTH CONSEQUENCES: Propionic acid occurs in chronically high levels in propionic acidemia. Propionic acidemia, also known as propionic aciduria, propionyl-CoA carboxylase deficiency and ketotic glycinemia, is an autosomal recessive metabolic disorder, classified as a branched-chain organic acidemia. The disorder presents in the early neonatal period with progressive encephalopathy. Death can occur quickly, due to secondary hyperammonemia, infection, cardiomyopathy, or basal ganglial stroke. In many cases, propionic acidemia can damage the brain, heart, and liver, cause seizures, and delays to normal development like walking and talking. (Wikipedia) | The metabolism of propanoic acid begins with its conversion to propionyl coenzyme A (propionyl-CoA), the usual first step in the metabolism of carboxylic acids. Since propanoic acid has three carbons, propionyl-CoA cannot directly enter either beta oxidation or the citric acid cycles. In most vertebrates, propionyl-CoA is carboxylated to D-methylmalonyl-CoA, which is isomerised to L-methylmalonyl-CoA. A vitamin B12-dependent enzyme catalyzes rearrangement of L-methylmalonyl-CoA to succinyl-CoA, which is an intermediate of the citric acid cycle and can be readily incorporated there. (Wikipedia)
  • ACTION OF TOXIN: In healthy individuals, the enzyme propionyl CoA carboxylase converts propionyl CoA to methylmalonyl CoA. This is one step in the process of converting certain amino acids and fats into sugar for energy. Individuals with propionic acidemia cannot perform this conversion because the enzyme propionyl CoA carboxylase is nonfunctional. The essential amino acids; isoleucine, valine, threonine, and methionine and odd-chain fatty acids are simply converted to propionyl CoA, before the process stops, leading to a buildup of propionyl CoA. Instead of being converted to methylmalonyl CoA, propionyl CoA is then converted into propionic acid, which builds up in the bloodstream. Propionyl-CoA, propionic acid, ketones, ammonia, and other toxic compounds accumulate in the blood, causing the signs and symptoms of propionic acidemia. Propionate acts as a metabolic toxin in liver cells by accumulating in mitochondria. Propanoate is metabolized oxidatively by glia, which suggests astrocytic vulnerability in propanoic acidemia when intramitochondrial propionyl-CoA may accumulate. Propanoic acidemia may alter both neuronal and glial gene expression by affecting histone acetylation (A15452, A15453). (Wikipedia) |
  • TOXIN SITES OF ACTION IN CELL: "Cytoplasm", "Extracellular", "Mitochondria"
  • Additional Exposure Routes: This is an endogenously produced metabolite found in the human body. It is used in metabolic reactions, catabolic reactions or waste generation.

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  Exposure Routes

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