Dangers of Phthalates

What are they and why are they dangerous? How do they affect your health?
Phthalates are a group of chemicals used to soften and increase the flexibility of plastic and vinyl. Phthalates are used in many consumer products, including:

  • Cosmetics and personal care products
  • Plastic and vinyl toys
  • Shower curtains
  • Mini Blinds and wallpaper
  • Vinyl flooring
  • Raincoats
  • Food packaging and wraps
  • Detergents
  • Adhesives
  • Plastic pipes
  • Medical equipment and devices
  • Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastics
Phthalates had been used to make pacifiers, soft rattles, and teething rings, but have not been allowed in those products since 1999.
Where are Phthalates found?
  • Consumer products – many plastic, vinyl, and personal care products
  • Food and water – food or water packaged in plastic, or contaminated water
  • Air – vapors or dust contaminated with phthalates.
How can I be exposed to Phthalates?
Phthalates commonly enter(s) the body through:
  • Ingestion (swallowing): Eating food or water packaged in plastic, or drinking water contaminated with phthalates; for children, chewing on soft vinyl toys or products made with phthalates
  • Inhalation (breathing): Breathing dust in rooms with plastic mini blinds, wallpaper, or flooring that contain phthalates
  • Skin contact: Touching or using products made with phthalates
What happens when I am exposed to Phthalates?
The health effects of exposure to phthalates are not yet fully known but are being studied by several government agencies. One phthalate, Di (2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP), is an endocrine disruptor and can cause cancer. Some phthalates may affect human reproduction or development.
Who is at risk for exposure to Phthalates?
  • Consumers: Many consumer products are made with phthalates.
  • Infants & Children: Many children’s toys and products are made with phthalates.
  • Medical Patients: Dialysis patients, hemophiliacs, or people who received blood transfusions may be exposed to tubing or containers made with phthalates.