What are phthalates and why should parents be concerned? Phthalates are man-made chemicals used in PVC plastics and many products that surround our home and children. They seem to have a similar effect on humans as BPA…targeting reproduction systems as they are endocrine disrupters. But unlike BPA, this chemical is especially potent for boys as it targets their developing reproductive systems causing great harm such as genital abnormalities, birth defects, and decreased sperm count in men. Phthalates are also linked to asthma, allergies, testicular cancer, and early puberty. As a parent, when you see the products where this chemical lurks – you’ll be concerned.
Watch this news video, featuring a scientist from the EWG (Environmental Working Group). She suggests that most baby shampoos, lotions, and products contain phthalates because most contain ‘fragrance’ as an ingredient. She states that phthalates are absorbed through our children’s skin and enter their bodies when breathed in. US manufacturers are not required to list these chemicals on labels. Again, they can be listed as ‘fragrance’ so you cannot properly research these ingredients. Just like their sunscreen report, The Environmental Working Group recommends avoiding anything listed with ‘fragrance’ in the ingredient list. This is the only way to totally ensure that this chemical will not make it’s way to your child’s skin.
Phthalates favorite place to hide appears to be our bathroom. Everyone knows I’m the queen of the tubby toys, so I’ve been slowly removing all plastic bath toys (included bath books!) my boys have bathed, played, and mouthed (yuck!) their entire lives (after researching this article – they’ll be gone asap). When buying bath toys for infants, don’t hit your local dollar store because these toys will contain phthalates. I searched Giggle using ‘phthalate free’ and found lots of results for cute bath toys. One thing I’ve noticed with this chemical, you can usually smell it within the products. You know those vinyl shower liners or curtains you’ve opened and the odor nearly knocks you over? That smell is known as chemical off-gassing and is releasing phthalates into your home. First place to start is removing your vinyl shower curtain and/or liner. Invest in a phthalate free product like this beautiful 100% organic cotton shower cutain over at Saplings. What a sustainable purchase because of the quality and it’s machine washable! Another place phthalates will lurk in a bathroom is nail-polish and air fresheners. Look for the ingredient DBP (Dibutyl phthalate) in nail-polish which is used to make the product chip resistant. If you have children in your home, source non-toxic nail polish. Planet Organic sells No Miss nail polish that is a healthy alternative. Air fresheners are just not necessary in today’s world. Even products marked all natural or unscented contain this harmful chemical. Air fresheners are extremely toxic and contain other chemicals that have been linked to cancer. For more information read this special report called Hidden Hazards of Air Fresheners.
Groan, I’ve just read that that ‘new car’ smell that we all love is actually off-gassing of airborne plastics chemicals. That was one of the last fragrances I enjoyed (although my Van usually smells like bananas or whatever 3 week old fruit hidden under my driver’s seat). <grin> Pregnant woman and children need to be especially concerned about phthalates. Spend a few minutes and think of products, that when you opened them from their packaging, gave you an instant headache from scent. Tubby toys, shower curtains, nail polish, personal care products, air fresheners, dryer sheets. Make a list and remove them from your home today. Use the EWG Skin Deep cosmetic safety database and source phthalate free products. And the most important thing is to stop buying anything containing a fragrance. Period.