The Danger of Phthalates

Phthalates are a group of dangerous chemicals that are banned in the use of toys due to their high toxicity and potential affect on reproductive health.  They are used in all too many skin care items but can easily be avoided on the skin with a little effort.

What are Phthalates?

Phthalates, also known as plasticizers, are a group of 25 chemicals that are used to make plastics more flexible and harder to break.  Phthalates are also used as solvents to dissolve solutions and can be used as a fragrance ingredient as well.

Phthalates are found in personal care and skin care items including soaps, cleansers, body washes, shampoos, nail polishes, cosmetics and hair sprays.  In these items Phthalates make the products softer.  They are found in many common household items including detergents, plastic clothes such as raincoats, inflatable toys, erasers, vinyl floors, shoes, paint, shower curtains, electrical cables and garden hoses.  Phthalates may be used in plastic containers and plastic packaging for many products.  They are even used in medical tubing and blood-storage containers.  In a stronger format they are used as lubricating oils and for automotive plastics.

Phthalates enter the body in many ways.  They enter our food system through tubes and pipes used in manufacturing and many containers and wrappers that hold food. They are in the air from the release of paint fumes, vapors and factory smoke.  We have contact with Phthalates many times a day when touching products that contain them, which can be transferred into our bodies when we touch our mouths, eyes or any body orifice.  And they can be absorbed into our skin from personal care and skin care items.

Why are Phthalates Dangerous?

Phthalates are known endocrine disruptors, especially harmful to reproductive hormones.  Babies and teenagers are most susceptible to toxic Phthalates as they are developing their organs and as new hormones levels emerge during puberty. 

In both human and animal studies, Phthalates showed skewed hormone levels in males and females.  A study out of the University of Rochester Medical Center found that women with higher Phthalates had sons with impaired testosterone production.  The result was less “typical male” behavior in play choices and styles.  The study concluded that Phthalates negatively impact the development of boys as growing fetuses.  In girls, Phthalates may be responsible for early breast development.  In both males and females, Phthalates can disrupt sex hormones, cause fertility problems and impact the reproductive system. 

Babies are particularly at risk because Phthalates are in many baby care items such as baby shampoo, baby powder and lotions designed for baby’s skin.  Additionally, babies have a high tendency for hand-to-mouth contact.  That means every item they touch with Phthalates – from the floor they crawl on, to the wall they pull up on, to the packaging their toys come in, to the soap they use in their bath – may end up being ingested.  Bioaccumulation of Phthalates, especially in the bloodstream, has been noted in babies. 

Currently, the U.S. government bans the use of certain Phthalates including BBP, DEHP and DBP. The Environmental Protection Agency has eight other Phthalates on their “chemicals of concern” list.  Federal laws do not require Phthalates to be listed on labels.  The only way to know if a product is safe from Phthalates is if it specifically says “no Phthalates” or “Phthalates-free.”

At Natura Veda we can proudly say our products are Phthalates-free!  The health risks of this group of chemicals is too great for your skin.  We urge you to take a closer look at all of your personal care and common household items and consider your exposure to Phthalates, and certainly that of your children.