What are phthalates?
Phthalates (pronounced THAL-ates) are organic chemicals produced from oil and are the most commonly used plasticisers in the world. They are a family of chemical substances that have been in use for about 50 years, primarily to make polyvinyl chloride (PVC) soft and flexible. Although the various kinds in use today have some structural similarity, each one is different in the way it performs. Phthalates look like clear vegetable oil and have little or no smell. We are all familiar with the products that are produced using plasticisers but we often take for granted the benefits they bring … flexibility, durability, longevity, and low cost. Phthalates are not used alone as they are always incorporated into an end product such as something that is made of PVC. This can include everything from PVC flooring and cable sheathing to life-saving medical devices. When phthalates are added into the vinyl manufacturing process they act as a softener and a lubricant. Thanks to plasticisers the ra
Phthalates are a family of plastic compounds used to make other plastics flexible without sacrificing strength or durability. They act as a lubricant among other plastic molecules, permitting them to slip and slide against one another. Phthalates biodegrade readily and do not persist in the environment. If they make their way into the body, they do not accumulate in animals or humans; inside the body, they break down quickly and are excreted. Like most food cans, our fish cans are lined with polyethylene terephthalate or PET, which is an extremely common food packaging material. PET is used in everything from soft drink and water bottles to peanut butter jars and surgical implants. (PET lining is used in cans to keep the fish from acquiring a metallic taste and prevent rusting.) PET has been studied extensively and deemed safe by many regulatory agencies. Like any indirect food additive, the scientific testing of PET is based on two key principles: establishing that there is a minimal
How are they used? Phthalates are a class of widely used industrial compounds known technically as dialkyl or alkyl aryl esters of 1,2-benzenedicarboxylic acid. There are many phthalates with many uses, and just as many toxicological properties. Phthalates crept into widespread use over the last several decades because of their many beneficial chemical properties. Now they are ubiquitous, not just in the products in which they are intentionally used, but also as contaminants in just about anything. About a billion pounds per year are produced worldwide. Intentional uses of phthalates include softeners of plastics, oily substances in perfumes, additives to hairsprays, lubricants and wood finishers. That new car smell, which becomes especially pungent after the car has been sitting in the sun for a few hours, is partly the pungent odor of phthalates volatilizing from a hot plastic dashboard. In the evening’s cool they then condense out of the inside air of the car to form an oily coating
What is it? Phthalates are used as plasticizers, substances added to plastics to increase their flexibility, and as solvents and other additives in personal care products. Their principal plasticizer use is to soften polyvinyl chloride (PVC). Common acronyms for phthalates are DEHP, DINP, DBP, DEP, and DIP. Where is it found? Phthalates are found in many PVC products, including children’s toys, shower curtains, and automobiles. They are also found in cosmetics, hair sprays, and perfumes. Why should I be concerned? Scientific studies have shown phthalates to be possible endocrine-disrupters and contributors to birth defects. Where can I learn more? For more information, please see the Wikipedia definition for polyvinyl chloride, the CHEC chemical profile for phthalates, the EWG Phthalates Chemical Family”, and Skin Deep Cosmetic Safety Database ingredient report for dibutyl phthalate.