Identifying Products That Contain The Damaging Compound Called Phthalates

Phtalates are a family of eight hormone mimicking chemical compounds which are also known as plasticizers.

These compounds are added in the manufacturing process to make plastics flexible and soft.  Thus, phthalates can be found in many items such as shower curtains, toys, plastic bags, medical tubing to vinyl floors.  These are also added cosmetics and personal care products in order to make nail polish more elastic, perfumes to have longer lasting scent, and lotions to be more easily absorbed by the skin.
According to a study conducted by Dr. Shanna Swan from the University of Rochester, among the eight chemical compounds in the family of phthalates, there are three that are most potent:  diethyl phthalate (DEHP, benzylbutyl phthalate (BBP), and dibutyl phthalate (DBP).  The most dominant of these is DEHP, which can be found mostly in plastic shower curtains, some soft plastic toys, wash-off baby books, food packaging, medical tubing, garden hoses, cable sheathing, and kitchen flooring among others.

To classify, here are the products that contain these three most potent phthalate families
  • Dibutyl Phthalate (DBP):  cosmetics, nail polish, and insecticides.
  • Benzylbutyl Phthalate (BBP):  paints, adhesives, car-care products, sealants, vinyl flooring, and some personal care products.
  • Diethyl Phthalate (DEHP):  floor tiles, vinyl products, plastic shower curtains, upholstery, garden hoses, cables, car parts and interiors, rainwear, wire and cable sheathing, packaging film, some toys, some food containers, and medical devices.
The fact that not all manufacturers list phthalates as an ingredient on their product labels does not help in any way for consumers to identify these hormone-mimicking compounds.  As a result, as we use gel on our hair, swipe antiperspirant, eat food in plastic wrappers, and breathe household dust, we can get a steady dose of phthalates.