The bad news is phthalates are unavoidable but with some education and awareness this chemical’s effect on your body and environment can play an incredibly small role. Pronounced THAL-ates, this group of chemicals are linked to endocrine disruption, developmental and reproductive toxicity, and cancer. They have been completely banned from cosmetics in the European Union, but still remain prevalent in U.S. and Canadian products. We firstly want to define phthalates, how you can avoid them and also give you the tools and knowledge of what to look for in a product that is safe.
What are Phthalates?
Phthalates come in a variety of shapes and forms but the ingredients most discussed in the chemical family are DBP, DEP, DEHP, DMP. “They are typically used in plastic food and beverage containers, as well as in food production, perfumes, insect repellents, hair sprays, nail polish, deodorants, fragrances, air fresheners and laundry detergents, carpet, vinyl floors, shower curtains, raincoats, plastic toys, plastic car parts, and hospital IV tubing and bags. Meats, cheeses, and other dairy products can also have high levels of phthalates, (source).” As you can witness they are essentially impossible to avoid but by being aware and limiting exposure negative repercussions on your health will be greatly diminished. Those most at risk are pregnant women and breast-feeding mothers as foreign chemicals can greatly impact their children.
How to Avoid Them:
Precautions can be made to limit phthalate exposure while also being aware of what ingredients to look for and what products have the highest levels. “A significant loophole in federal law allows phthalates (and other chemicals) to be added to fragrances without disclosure to consumers, (source).”
Below is a list of some of the easiest ways to limit phthalate exposure while also providing a loose guide of what to look for:
- Anything labeled with fragrance or perfume on the label, contains phthalates. Most individuals find these ingredients to be the most prevalent in their body care products. Instead look for “phthalate-free” or “no synthetic fragrance” instead.
- Switch to glass water bottles and food storage containers.
- Check the code on your plastic bottles—3 and 7 may have phthalates.
- Throw out old baby and children’s toys. Anything before 2008 is particularly at risk for higher phthalate levels.
Phthalates are a growing concern especially for vulnerable populations but progress is being made to raise awareness and educate companies along with consumers. “With a mountain of scientific evidence piling up on phthalates, it can’t be long before consumers begin to put pressure on retailers and retailers in turn push their suppliers to find both alternatives to phthalates and ways to remove the chemicals from their products altogether, (source).” Phthalates can simply be removed altogether from products, with no replacement and have little affect on the overall product. The only area that faces significant challenges is making soft, flexible plastics. With research going into polymers this group is not fair behind. “There are flexible polymers that don’t require a plasticizer – they exist, (source).”
Overall phthalates are a cause for concern but effects can be greatly reduced if not eliminated through eliminating some of the worst offenders. Consumers should ask questions and read labels to expand their understanding of the presence of phthalates in products. Positive change is taking place in growing markets and can be witnessed through green beauty movements and non toxic products. More questions about phthalates? http://thesalonmovement.com/