Understanding Phthalates

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Phthalates are endocrine disrupting chemicals that are found in a variety of things from plastics to personal care products. They are often used in plastics to make them more flexible. However, they are even used in products that contain synthetic fragrance. So, what exactly is this chemical, why is it used so often, and what harm could it be doing?

Well, phthalates are added chemicals which are used to make plastic more flexible and harder to break. This means they are not necessary to the quality of many of your products besides the packaging or smell. They are in things such as toys, vinyl flooring and wall covering, detergents, food packaging, pharmaceuticals, and personal care products. In the case of fragrance, they can sometimes be sneakily added to your products under the code word fragrance. However for the most part phthalates can be avoided by avoiding plastics with the recycling number 3.

Phthalates are dangerous because they are endocrine disruptors. Endocrine disruptors cause problems by mimicking or altering the amounts of hormones in your body. By acting as hormones, your bodies natural signals, it can confuse your body into sending the wrong responses. Phthalates, for example, have been shown to alter hormones, lower sperm count, obesity, diabetes, and thyroid irregularities.

To avoid phthalates, try replacing your plastics with glass or stainless steel bottles. Also, avoid plastics with the recycling numbers 3 and 5 4 1 2 because these are also harmful plastics. These numbers can often be found on the bottom of your plastic containers and can be strong indicators of what chemicals were used to form your plastics. By simply changing something such as your water bottle or to a product without fragrance, you can greatly benefit your health in the long run.

By Sara Frawley