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How Do I Limit My Exposure to Phthalates?

Many deodorants and antiperspirants contain parabens, phthalates, and other chemicals.
Teething ring labels should be checked to ensure they are free of phthalates.
Article Details
  • Written By: N. Madison
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 23 April 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2014
    Conjecture Corporation
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Phthalates are chemicals that many humans are exposed to on a daily basis. Some people are concerned with finding effective ways to avoid them as they’ve been identified as possible carcinogens by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). They may also cause reproductive system problems in children born of parents who consume them.

The big problem with avoiding phthalates is that they are readily present in everyday items. For example, they are used in making many vinyl products and are found in everything from medical devices, flooring, and packaging to changing pads, bottles, and teething rings. Phthalates are even found in products used to wrap and store foods.

One way to avoid phthalate is to be a smart consumer. A person who is shopping for teething rings and other toys for her baby should check the label to be sure they are phthalate-free. There are regulations in effect in both the United States and Europe that either ban or limit the amount of certain phthalates allowed in toys for very small children, pacifiers, and teethers. However, other phthalates may be used, or they may be used in numbers approved by government regulators but not acceptable from a parent’s point of view.

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Though many people may watch what they eat for calorie and fat purposes, there are other important reasons to take care in selecting food to eat. For starters, plastic gloves worn by workers who prepare processed food items may expose unwitting consumers to phthalates, so eating fewer processed foods may be a good idea. It may also be helpful to avoid microwaving and storing foods in containers made with PVC. If a person is unsure whether or not his containers and food wrappings include this substance, it may be wise to use another container or food wrapping altogether.

Since it is also possible to be exposed to phthalate by simply breathing, it’s a good idea to keep things well ventilated when indoors. This is because many household items, even wallpaper, can contain phthalate. It’s possible that phthalate may find its way into the dust indoors and eventually into the air. Phthalates can even be found in building materials, so it’s a good idea to keep ventilation a priority during construction and renovation.

Cosmetic products can also be sources of phthalates. For example, they may be found in nail treatments and even in deodorants; they may even be present in hairspray. To avoid them, it’s a good idea to look for them on ingredient labels before using cosmetic products. However, they may be lumped in with other ingredients under the heading of fragrance. As such, it may be necessary to contact the manufacturer to be totally sure about whether or not the product contains phthalate.

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