What are Phthalates?

Two plastic bottles on a plate and a fork and knife alongside it

Phthalates are a type of endocrine disrupting chemical found in many household products, such as soft plastics, products with artificial fragrances, PVC, vinyl, along with many stain and water resistant products. 

What Phthalates Do to You

Phthalates are exceptionally toxic to men and boys. They are ‘anti-androgenic’ which means they emasculate males. They’ve been linked to a whole host of health problems for males. 

In men, phthalates lower testosterone. Phthalates also lower sperm counts and sperm quality

In boys, phthalates are linked to smaller and deformed penises. Phthalates are linked to lowered IQ, ADHD, and perhaps even autism. Phthalates are strongly linked to asthma in children. Some scientists even wonder if they’re linked to gender confusion, although this link isn’t proven yet. Most seriously, phthalates cause reproductive harm to boys that can be severe and permanent if exposure isn’t stopped. 

Phthalates are the most dangerous to children in the womb, when they are undergoing development that is extremely important and sensitive. 

The only good news about phthalates is that they are ‘water soluble.’ That means they flush out of the body quickly once exposure is stopped, usually within 48 hours. Most Americans maintain steady levels of phthalates in their bloodstream since we’re constantly exposed. 

How You’re Exposed to Phthalates

The most common source of exposure to phthalates is microwaving any plastic, storing food in plastic, or using a bathroom product with phthalates in them. 

If you’re wondering how you can know if a bathroom product has phthalates in them, look at the ingredient label and see if it says ‘fragrance’. Unfortunately, the FDA lets companies use the term ‘fragrance’ in place of ‘phthalates’. It seems like an innocent ingredient, but it’s not. 

Bathroom products without phthalates are things that are either unscented or they use essential oils and botanical extracts for a scent. You can also check the label to see if it says that it contains no phthalates. Unlike ‘BPA free’ products, those labels are usually trustworthy.

Unfortunately, phthalates aren't the only dangerous endocrine disrupting chemical in your home. If you don't know already, you should learn about BPA

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