Posts Tagged ‘hazardous chemicals’

Beware Phthalates: They’re Not Just in Crib Mattresses

Thursday, December 3rd, 2009
The Truth About Phthalates

The Truth About Phthalates

In case you’re not up to date on this, changes have been made in the EPA. Finally, it looks like the agency is going to have the resources and power necessary to do something about hazardous chemicals like phthalates. This is not the only chemical the agency will focus on in the near future, but it certainly is one of the most widely used, and dangerous. Why?

Our Stolen Future, a book about phthalates, outlines the animal and human studies that have been done – and the picture is bleak. But, there’s good news as well – it looks like some of the health concerns that have become more common over the last few decades may actually be caused by phthalates, which opens the door to a possible reversal of the prevalence of these conditions.

The effects on the male reproductive system are fairly well known at this point, and they are serious and have very serious implications, but did you know that phthalates may also have something to do with the greatly increased incidence of allergies? A study was done on DEHP’s (one type of phthalates) ability to exacerbate allergic reactions to an allergen. The author of the book said this might provide a “possible clue as to why allergy rates have gone up so much in the developed world.” But the list of potential effects goes on.

We don’t use phthalates in our crib mattresses so, on that front, your baby is safe. But phthalates are used in other flexible vinyl products – flooring and wall coverings, food contact applications, and medical devices. They are also used in personal care products (like perfumes, lotions and cosmetics), as solvents and plasticizers for cellulose acetate, and in making lacquers, varnishes, and coatings, including those used to provide timed release in some pharmaceuticals.

Phthalates are big news, and definitely something we should stay away from. Here’s a list of some of the most common names you’ll see on labels so you know what to look for:

  • DEHP, also known as di-(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate or Bis (2-ethylhexyl) phthalate. Used as a softener in PVC products, such as IV bags, tubing, and other medical devices.
  • BzBP, or benzylbutyl phthalate. Used in vinyl flooring, car-care products, and personal care products.
  • DBP, or di-n-butyl phthalate. Used in nail polish and other personal care products.
  • DEP, or diethyl phthalate. Used in personal care products such as deodorants, perfume, cologne, aftershave lotion, shampoo, hair gel and hand lotion.
  • DMP, or dimethyl phthalate. Used in insect repellants, plastics, and solid rocket propellant.

However, those are not the only names to look for. You should also include DnOP, DnHP, and several others.

Do yourself a favor and start reading the labels to look for phthalates. And just don’t use them.