(Last Updated On: May 21, 2020)
P hthalates are chemicals used to make plastics more flexible and harder to break.

Phthalates can also be used as solvents for other materials, and are used in hundreds of consumer products that we come into contact with every day.

This can be everything from shampoo to kids’ toys. We are exposed to them via the foods we eat and drink that have been in contact with these plastic containers and coverings.[i] As well as cosmetics, powder, and body lotions.
Phthalate toxins measured in children at age three were found to be inversely related to thyroid function. Though the FDA says the chemicals are safe, a number of these are being shown to disrupt the endocrine system. Toxins are especially problematic for children since they are still growing. It is time for us to take note and ACTION – our environment and the toxins we are exposed to have profound and numerous effects on our health.
There are many different types of phthalates: DBP (di-n-butyl phthalate); DEP (diethyl phthalate); DEHP (di-(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate or bis (2-ethylhexyl) phthalate), BzBP (benzyl butyl phthalate), and DMP (dimethyl phthalate).
These have been used in cosmetics:
• DBP used in nail polish to reduce cracking
• DMP used in hair sprays (to help avoid stiffness by allowing them to form a flexible film on the hair)
• DEP used as a solvent and fixative in fragrances
Though thankfully in the latest FDA survey of cosmetic ingredients, DBP and DMP are rarely used. DEP is the only one still commonly used.

Other places you can find phthalates are in perfume, hair spray, deodorant, nail polish, insect repellent, carpeting, vinyl flooring, shower curtains, raincoats, plastic toys, food packaging and your steering wheels, and dashboards of most cars.

Phthalates are found in our food and water, as well, mostly dairy (likely due to the plastic tubing used to collect the milk), meats (poultry tends to carry more than red meats), cheeses and fruits and veggies that have been sprayed by pesticides. Unfiltered water will likely contain some, as well.

Here are some things you can do to limit your exposure:

  1. Opt for clean beauty products such as #beautycounter or see this list!
  2. Read up on products before purchasing them to avoid VOCs (volatile organic compounds).
  3. Eat organic fruits and veggies, filter your water. 
  4. Consider eating more plant-based and switching out dairy for plant-based milk every once in a while. People who eat diets rich in fruits, vegetables, beans, grains, nuts, and seeds have lower levels of phthalates in their blood than do people who eat more animal foods (dairy and meat).[ii]

[i] https://www.cdc.gov/biomonitoring/Phthalates_FactSheet.html

[ii] Ref: Environ Int. 2017 Sep; 106: 11–18.

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