A statement on the use of gentian violet

Posted on October 17, 2019


On June 12, 2019, the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science (FEAS) became aware of a Health Canada safety alert related to potential cancer risks associated with gentian violet, which has been a chemical used in the past by engineering students to dye their jackets and bodies purple. Health Canada concluded that: “as with other known cancer-causing substances, there is no safe level of exposure, and therefore any exposure to these drug products is a potential cause for concern.”

The FEAS recommends that students discontinue the use of gentian violet for the purpose of dyeing jackets and bodies. Additionally, per the recommendations from Health Canada, the FEAS advises students who have used gentian violet in the past to:

  • Stop using all drug products that contain gentian violet,
  • Return any products containing gentian violet to a pharmacy for proper disposal,
  • Consult your health care professional if you have used any health products containing gentian violet and have health concerns,
  • Report any health product-related adverse reactions or complaints to Health Canada.

Additionally, in order to protect our facilities, students are advised that if they are found at any time, dyed purple with any substance, in any faculty building, they will be asked to leave the building,

Kevin J. Deluzio, PhD, PEng, FCAE
Professor and Dean
Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science
Queen's University