Toxno Substance Profile
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Substance Name

Glycolic acid
Identification Number: CASRN | 79-14-1

  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: Chemical used in hydraulic fracturing fluids | Household Toxin | Industrial/Workplace Toxin | Food Toxin | Synthetic Toxin | Indirect Additives Used in Food Contact Substances | PESTICIDE active ingredient | Inert Pesticide Ingredient USA - Non Food Use Only | Pesticide approved in USA (California) | A Hazardous Substance that may be found in the Australian Workplace
  • SUBSTANCE LINEAGE: Organic Compounds | Organic Acids and Derivatives | Hydroxy Acids and Derivatives | Alpha Hydroxy Acids and Derivatives | Alpha Hydroxy Acids and Derivatives
  • SYNONYMS: 2-Hydroxyacetate | 2-Hydroxyacetic acid | a-Hydroxyacetate | a-Hydroxyacetic acid | alpha-Hydroxyacetate | alpha-Hydroxyacetic acid | Glycocide | Glycolate | Glycollate | Glycollic acid | GlyPure | GlyPure 70 | Hydroxyacetate | Hydroxyacetic acid | Hydroxyethanoate | Hydroxyethanoic acid | Sodium glycolate
  • DESCRIPTION: Has been used in CSG, Hydraulic Fracturing Operations (Fracking) as - Unknown | Glycolic acid (or hydroxyacetic acid) is the smallest alpha-hydroxy acid (AHA). This colorless, odorless, and hygroscopic crystalline solid is highly soluble in water. Due to its excellent capability to penetrate skin, glycolic acid finds applications in skin care products, most often as a chemical peel. It may reduce wrinkles, acne scarring, hyperpigmentation and improve many other skin conditions, including actinic keratosis, hyperkeratosis, and seborrheic keratosis. Once applied, glycolic acid reacts with the upper layer of the epidermis, weakening the binding properties of the lipids that hold the dead skin cells together. This allows the outer skin to dissolve revealing the underlying skin. (L1909)
  • COMMENTS:

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

    | | 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: C2H4O3
  • DATA SOURCES: DATA SOURCES: ARTICLE 4 | T3DB | PubChem | FracFocus | EPA in USA | US HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES | FDA Indirect Food Additives | 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: Glycolic acid is a strong irritant. Accumulation of glycolic acid and its metabolite, oxalic acid, causes tachycardia, hypertension, hyperventilation, and metabolic acidosis. (L1023, L1909)
  • POSSIBLE HEALTH CONSEQUENCES: Glycolic acid metabolizes to oxalic acid, which reacts with calcium and forms calcium oxalate crystals in the kidney. This can cause kidney injury, leading to acute kidney failure. (L1023) Chronically high levels of glycolic acid are associated with the inborn error of metabolism known as Type I primary hyperoxaluria. Oxalate stones in primary hyperoxaluria tend to be severe, resulting in relatively early kidney damage (before age 20), which impairs the excretion of oxalate leading to a further acceleration in accumulation of oxalate in the body. After the development of renal failure patients may develop oxalate deposits in the bones, joints and bone marrow. Severe cases may develop haematological problems such as anaemia and thrombocytopaenia. The deposition of oxalate in the body is sometimes called "oxalosis" to be distinguished from "oxaluria" which refers to oxalate in the urine. | The main path of the degradation of glycolic acid is to glyoxylic acid. This reaction is mediated by lactic dehydrogenase or glycolic acid oxidase. Once glyoxylic acid is formed, it is apparently degraded very rapidly to a variety of products, a few of which have been observed. Its breakdown to 2-hydroxy-3-oxoadipate it is thought, is mediated by thiamine pyrophosphate in the presence of magnesium ions. The formation of glycine involves pyridoxal phosphate and glyoxylate transaminase, whereas the formation of carbon dioxide and water via formic acid apparently involves coenzyme A (CoA) and flavin mononucleotides. (T29)
  • ACTION OF TOXIN: Glycolic acid's toxicity is due to its metabolism to oxalic acid. Glycolic and oxalic acid, along with excess lactic acid, are responsible for the anion gap metabolic acidosis. Oxalic acid readily precipitates with calcium to form insoluble calcium oxalate crystals. Tissue injury is caused by widespread deposition of oxalate crystals and the toxic effects of glycolic acid. (A612, A613) |
  • TOXIN SITES OF ACTION IN CELL: "Cytoplasm", "Extracellular", "Mitochondria", "Peroxisome"
  • Additional Exposure Routes: Due to its excellent capability to penetrate skin, glycolic acid finds applications in skin care products, most often as a chemical peel. It may reduce wrinkles, acne scarring, hyperpigmentation and improve many other skin conditions, including actinic keratosis, hyperkeratosis, and seborrheic keratosis. Glycolic acid is also a useful intermediate for organic synthesis and finds employment in the textile industry as a dyeing and tanning agent, in food processing as a flavoring agent and as a preservative. Glycolic acid is often included into emulsion polymers, solvents and additives for ink and paint in order to improve flow properties and impart gloss. (L1909)

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  Exposure Routes

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