Olestra the "Anal Leakage" Fat Gets Alternative Life As Green Replacement for VOCs


Pringles photo via williac @ flickr.

Remember when Procter & Gamble tried to downplay the fact that an overdose of the non-fat fat Olestra could give you diarrhea? Digestive problems, abdominal cramping, loose stools and best of all - anal leakage were all terms used to describe the effects of too much Olestra. Now Olestra's oily smoothness may be good for something besides salty snacks. In a stroke of green chemistry good luck, Procter & Gamble is marketing the Olestra "sucrose ester" as an environmentally-friendlier replacement for toxic volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in paint and other products. From causing the runs to making paint spread smoother
According to Scientific American, Procter & Gamble is using Olestra-like molecules made from soybean oil to be part of paints and coatings. Marketed under the name Sefrose, these sucrose esters are what P&G; calls a 'sustainable alternative' to petrochemical products.

"They built a whole factory to produce this stuff, so I guess it's a good idea," Michael Jacobson, executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, told ScientificAmerican.com. "As long as you're not lubricating your gastrointestinal tract, it's fine."

P&G; chemists told Scientific American the Olestra-like substance could substitute for two generally oil-based paint chemicals: resins (which make the color stick on the walls) and solvents (which keep the paint from being too gooey). Sefose could perform those functions but without releasing VOCs' harmful particles into the air. Even less well known is a discovery about Olestra in 1999 showing that it might be helpful in removing the persistent pollutant dioxin from the body.

Green chemistry for a VOC replacement
Sefrose has already been added to one deck stain on the market, though P&G; wouldn't say which one, and the company is also hoping that the product will be able to be used to replace some lubricants also generally made from petroleum. Via: Scientific American and EWG

P.S. Olestra-based snack products are still available.

Read more about green chemistry
Will the Next Google Please Stand Up? Green Chemistry Contenders
">Green Chemistry for the Layperson
Calls and Cheers for Green Chemistry
OrganoClick's Green Chemistry to Slim, Trim, and Detoxify Packaging

Tags: Agriculture | Food Safety | Toxins