According to Médecins Sans Frontières propylene glycol can dissolve plastic:

As propylene glycol can dissolve plastic... (Source).

Is this claim true? This seems rather spurious to me. If it matters, for a specific "plastic" I am particularly interested in evaluating the claim in regards to polypropylene and polyethylene as both are materials common for making syringes.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ The kind of plastic almost always matters, I doubt this source meant PE/PP - they aren't particularly soluble in solvents. $\endgroup$
    – Mithoron
    Commented Mar 30, 2019 at 23:53
  • $\begingroup$ I understand that maybe based on the medical source of the question this might be downvoted, but otherwise I don't really understand. If a presumably reputable source makes a farfetched statement and someone posts it here I think that is a good question. Perhaps meta addresses why this is not a worthy question? $\endgroup$
    – Buck Thorn
    Commented Mar 31, 2019 at 10:40
  • $\begingroup$ Thank you, Mithoron and @NightWriter for the comment. I am asking this question because of a question on Medical Sciences Beta. If you read more, you will realize that I actually doubt the claim and am asking this question as the claim comes from a medically reputable source. $\endgroup$
    – user76386
    Commented Apr 1, 2019 at 6:10
  • $\begingroup$ @Mithoron From what I could find, plastic syringes are made from PE/PP. Of course, please correct me if I am wrong. $\endgroup$
    – user76386
    Commented Apr 2, 2019 at 2:35

2 Answers 2


As propylene glycol can dissolve plastic...

This claim is absurd. Propylene glycol cannot dissolve poly(olefin) polymers especially polypropylene or polyethylene. It is possible for glycols to cause paneling of containers made to such, but not dissolve; and certainly wouldn't happen in the amount of time it takes to perform an injection.

  • $\begingroup$ Out of curiosity, would you say that poly(olefin) polymers could leach out from the syringe into the propylene glycol? $\endgroup$
    – user76386
    Commented Apr 2, 2019 at 2:34
  • $\begingroup$ @BarryHarrison No, though there could be unreacted monomer, but far below any concentration of concern. Think about how unclean it is to even fill a car with petrol. $\endgroup$
    – A.K.
    Commented Apr 2, 2019 at 3:31
  • $\begingroup$ Got it. Do you mind clarifying your analogy? $\endgroup$
    – user76386
    Commented Apr 2, 2019 at 3:33
  • $\begingroup$ @BarryHarrison Sorry, no analogy I was just trying to juxtapose the minuscule amount of monomer potentially present in a plastic syringe versus the concoction of vapors present at an activity most people perform regularly. $\endgroup$
    – A.K.
    Commented Apr 2, 2019 at 3:37
  • $\begingroup$ Could you comment on propylene glycol leaching/dissolving latex and/or natural rubber? Thanks! $\endgroup$
    – user76386
    Commented Apr 2, 2019 at 16:04

Plastic syringes are made of polypropylene and the document linked by @A.K. states that polypropylene is not compatible with antifreeze.

When referring to the plastic containers antifreezes are sold in the most common material used I have seen is HDPE and there is no data available on compatibility according to the Geotech data sheet linked.

The thing is that elsewhere in the data sheet it states that polypropylene is compatible with propylene glycol when it can be used as antifreeze as an alternative to ethylene glycol.


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