Final report on the safety assessment of EDTA, calcium disodium EDTA, diammonium EDTA, dipotassium EDTA, disodium EDTA, TEA-EDTA, tetrasodium EDTA, tripotassium EDTA, trisodium EDTA, HEDTA, and trisodium HEDTA

Int J Toxicol. 2002;21 Suppl 2:95-142. doi: 10.1080/10915810290096522.


EDTA (ethylenediamine tetraacetic acid) and its salts are substituted diamines. HEDTA (hydroxyethyl ethylenediamine triacetic acid) and its trisodium salt are substituted amines. These ingredients function as chelating agents in cosmetic formulations. The typical concentration of use of EDTA is less than 2%, with the other salts in current use at even lower concentrations. The lowest dose reported to cause a toxic effect in animals was 750 mg/kg/day. These chelating agents are cytotoxic and weakly genotoxic, but not carcinogenic. Oral exposures to EDTA produced adverse reproductive and developmental effects in animals. Clinical tests reported no absorption of an EDTA salt through the skin. These ingredients are likely, however, to affect the passage of other chemicals into the skin because they will chelate calcium. Exposure to EDTA in most cosmetic formulations, therefore, would produce systemic exposure levels well below those seen to be toxic in oral dosing studies. Exposure to EDTA in cosmetic formulations that may be inhaled, however, was a concern. An exposure assessment done using conservative assumptions predicted that the maximum EDTA dose via inhalation of an aerosolized cosmetic formulation is below that shown to produce reproductive or developmental toxicity. Because of the potential to increase the penetration of other chemicals, formulators should continue to be aware of this when combining these ingredients with ingredients that previously have been determined to be safe, primarily because they were not significantly absorbed. Based on the available data, the Cosmetic Ingredient Review Expert Panel found that these ingredients are safe as used in cosmetic formulations.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Abnormalities, Drug-Induced
  • Animals
  • Chelating Agents / administration & dosage
  • Chelating Agents / adverse effects*
  • Chelating Agents / chemistry*
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Consumer Product Safety*
  • Cosmetics / administration & dosage
  • Cosmetics / adverse effects
  • Cosmetics / chemistry
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Drug Administration Routes
  • Edetic Acid / administration & dosage
  • Edetic Acid / adverse effects*
  • Edetic Acid / chemistry*
  • Humans
  • Toxicity Tests


  • Chelating Agents
  • Cosmetics
  • Edetic Acid