Aminomethyl propanol (AMP) may appear on your label as isobutanol-2-amine, amino-2-methylpropanol, 2-aminoisobutanol, or hydroxymethyl-2-methyl-1-propanol. It’s an alkanolamine, meaning it’s got both primary amine (protein building blocks) and primary alcohol properties.
As an alkalizing chemical, AMP functions as a pH regulator or buffering agent. In doing so, it helps preserve and increase the stability of aerosol deodorants, eye and facial products, creams and lotions, hair sprays and dyes, etc. It also functions as an emulsifying agent and a corrosion inhibitor in cleaning products, industrial and automotive chemicals, polishes, and floor maintenance products.
You can get exposed to AMP via inhalation, ingestion, and skin absorption. Continuous exposure can cause serious irritation of the skin, lung, and eyes which can result in blindness. It can also cause endocrine disruption as well as cardiovascular and central nervous system disorders. When ingested, it can irritate the mucous membranes of the mouth, pharynx, esophagus, and gastrointestinal tract. Inhalation can lead to pneumonia and respiratory tract edema, i.e. swelling caused by fluid retention.
It’s a bit comforting to know that AMP’s a primary amine and may not undergo nitrosation, i.e. it may not produce nitrosamines - a chemical considered carcinogenic (cancer-causing) by the International Agency for Research on Cancer and the US Environmental Protection Agency. The major concern, however, is that AMP-containing products may undergo nitrosation and produce nitrosamines when contaminated by secondary amines (ammonia group with two hydrogens displaced).
The problem for consumers is that there’s no way of knowing whether or not the products they’re using are contaminated by nitrosamines unless they undergo some testing. Chances are the manufacturer may not be aware of the contamination for testing to be conducted. And even if the products are tested and the results reveal there’s some contamination, it’s possible that the manufacturer will not issue a recall just to safeguard the business’s reputation.
AMP’s considered an environmental hazard. It’s particularly dangerous to aquatic life with long lasting effects.