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General Health : Environment Last Updated: Apr 20, 2011 - 9:38:09 AM

Phthalates: How to avoid them?
By Ben Wasserman
May 27, 2008 - 12:04:33 PM

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Phthalates are a common industrial chemical widely used in PVC plastics, solvents, and synthetic fragrances.  

Phthalates are endocrine disruptors that could negatively impact reproductive system leading to decreased sperm motility and concentration in men and genital abnormalities in baby boys.   The chemicals are also linked to increased risk of asthma and allergies.

These chemicals are found in the blood of almost all Americans, according to a CDC study of 289 people in 2000.

To minimize exposure to phthalates, suggests avoidance of nail polish, plastics in the kitchen, vinyl toys, paint, fragrance, vinyl and air freshers.

Dibutyl phthalate is often used in nail polish to make it chip-resistant. Check on the ingredient list. The chemical can be shortened to DBP.  

Plastic with phthalates may leach out more phthalates at high temperature.   Phthalates are used to make toys soft.   Try to use wooden or phthalate-free toys.  

Phthalates may also be used in paint as solvents.  

Diethyl phthalate (DEP) is often used in fragrance. But the chemicals are often not listed in labels so concerned consumers should avoid products with the word "fragrance".

Vinyl is used in many products including lawn furniture, garden hoses, building materials and items of clothing such as raincoats.   One common source of phthalates is shower curtain.   Switch to a non-vinyl shower curtain.  

Most air fresher products are just as fragrance containing phthalates.

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