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Phthalates in the Home: What You Should Know

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Published on Nov 28, 2013

In recent years, there has been growing concern over human exposure to a group of widely used chemicals known as phthalates. Phthalates are used to soften and increase the flexibility of plastic and vinyl.

Phthalates are suspected to be endocrine disruptors. The human health effects of exposure to low levels of phthalates are not yet fully known, but they are being studied by several government agencies.

Phthalates are used in hundreds of consumer products. They can be found in some cosmetics and personal care products, including perfume, hair spray, soap, shampoo, nail polish and skin moisturizers. They are also used in consumer products such as flexible plastic and vinyl toys, shower curtains, wallpaper, vinyl miniblinds, food packaging and plastic wrap.

Phthalates can also be found in some wood finishes, detergents, adhesives, plastic plumbing pipes, lubricants, medical tubing and fluid bags, solvents, insecticides, medical devices, building materials and vinyl flooring.

People can be exposed to low levels of phthalates through air, water or food. Exposure to low levels of the chemicals may come from eating food packaged in plastic that contains phthalates or breathing dust in rooms with materials that contain phthalates.

Children can be exposed to phthalates by chewing on soft vinyl toys or other products made with the chemicals. Young children may have a greater risk of being exposed to phthalate particles in dust than adults because of their hand-to-mouth behaviors.

People at the highest risk of exposure to phthalates are dialysis patients, hemophiliacs, or people who received blood transfusions from sources that use tubing or containers made with the chemicals.

These are just a few things to know about phthalates. To learn more about this or other chemical, microbial, indoor air quality, health and safety, occupational or environmental issues, please visit the websites shown in the video.

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