Phthalates (pronounced f-THAL-lates) are chemicals mainly used as plasticizers – additives used to increase flexibility, longevity, durability and transparency in otherwise rigid plastics.
Phthalates are found in many products ranging from pharmaceuticals, fragrances, lubricants and other personal-care items to emulsifiers, adhesives, detergents and paints.
Although phthalates are bound to the plastics they inhabit, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “most Americans have metabolites of multiple phthalates in their urine.”
The chemical industry will tell you all of this is perfectly safe. However, like parabens, phthalates are recognized endocrine disruptors. Meaning, they’ve been shown to affect hormone levels and cause birth defects in animals.
Many consumers have heard of phthalates in regards to their use in fragrances. However, it’s important to note, you won’t see them listed on any ingredients list. The sad truth is manufacturers are not required by law to disclose fragrance ingredients due to their proprietary nature. All you’ll find is “fragrance” on the ingredients list.