Contaminant Spotlight: Phthalates
What are they?
Phthalates are used in a long list of items that includes household cleaners, food packaging, fragrances, cosmetics, and personal care products. Phthalates refer to a group of chemicals used as a binding agent and are also used to make plastics flexible. They are colorless, odorless, and oily liquids that are not easily evaporated. Phthalates enter the environment when they are released from a product containing them through heat, agitation, or prolonged storage. They can be released at any time during their lifecycle.
We can be exposed to phthalates in many different ways since they are in a good number of items we use on a daily basis. We are exposed through ingestion, inhalation, skin absorption, and intravenous injection. They are readily absorbed into the body and are quickly converted into metabolites. They do tend to be excreted rather quickly and easily from the body, however, there are some studies that suggest they can have negative effects on our health.
While little lab research has been done on humans, phthalate exposure in lab animals has shown to cause a number of problems like early onset of puberty, interference with the male reproductive tract development, interference with the natural functioning of the hormone system, reproductive and genital defects, lower testosterone levels, and lower sperm counts. They are considered to be endocrine disruptors and androgen blocking chemicals.
How to Minimize Exposure
When you microwave food using plastic products, use microwave safe containers only because phthalates can leach from food storage containers when heated. For babies and young children, ensure they are using toys and toothbrushes that are labeled phthalate free. Similarly, make sure plastic products say phthalate free. This includes cleaning and bath products. In medical situations, PVC is used in a wide variety of products like IVs, blood bags, and catheters. Ask your medical provider to use devices that are phthalate free.
These are the most widely used phthalate compounds ~
BBP (butyl benzyl phthalate)
DBP (di-n-butyl phthalate)
DEHP (di-2-ethylhexyl phthalate)
DEP (diethyl phthalate)
DiDP (di-isodecyl phthalate)
DiNP (di-isononyll phthalate)
DnHP (di-n-hexyl phthalate)
DnOP (di-n-octyl phthalate)
Luckily, all of our products are phthalate free and while phthalates have found their way into our water supply, our water filters remove them.
To see a full list of our Test Results, click here.