What Are Phthalates?

There has been a lot of talk about phthalates in recent years, but what are they? Why the concern?
Phthalates are a certain kind of synthetic chemical used for its softening ability, also known as plasticizers because of their ability to impart flexibility, resiliency, and solvent properties. They are used in a wide variety of items that we come into contact daily including items made from vinyl, wallpaper, wood flooring, shower curtains, medical supplies and instruments, baby toys, water bottles, fragrances, beauty products, aspirin, food packaging and much much more. 
In the Fourth National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals (Fourth Report), CDC scientists measured 13 phthalate metabolites in the urine of 2,636 or more participants aged six years and older who took part in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) during 2003–2004. It has also been found that women have a higher concentration of phthalates in their urine than men because of their use of beauty and body care products. So...the National Toxicology Program (NTP) expressed concern over the adverse development of babies born to pregnant women who take in DEHP at the normal levels estimated for an adult.  They also expressed concern that male infants and toddlers who substantially exceed adult DEHP intake estimates could suffer problems in their reproductive system development- Click HERE for more info. In children can also be linked to allergies and/or asthma. Additionally, in men...Phthalates have been found to disrupt the endocrine system. Several phthalate compounds have caused reduced sperm counts, testicular atrophy and structural abnormalities in the reproductive systems of male test animals, and some studies also link phthalates to liver cancer.  

How exactly are we exposed?
Phthalates used as plasticizers in polymers are not chemically bound to the polymers and therefore readily leach, migrate, or off-gas from the polymers, particularly when phthalate-containing products are exposed to high temperatures. Low-molecular-weight phthalates—including DMP, DEP, and DBP—are used in a variety of personal hygiene and cosmetic products, such as nail polish to minimize chipping and fragrances as scent stabilizers (ATSDR 1995, 2001; NICNAC 2008). High-molecular-weight phthalates—including DEHP, DINP, and DOP—are used in plastic tubing, food packaging and processing materials, containers, vinyl toys, vinyl floor coverings, and building products (ATSDR 1997, 2002; ECB 2003; Kueseng et al. 2007). Medical supplies and devices may contain phthalates, as may some medications, for example, medications with enteric coatings. Because phthalates are so widespread there are a variety of ways that we can become exposed, most commonly through ingestion, inhalation, and skin absorption.

How can we reduce our exposure?
In today's day and age, it is virtually impossible to completely do away with harmful chemicals. However, we can greatly reduce our exposure.
1 - Read the ingredients and avoid:
    *DBP (di-n-butyl phthalate) and DEP (diethyl phthalate)   are often found in personal care products, including nail polishes, deodorants, perfumes and cologne, aftershave lotions, shampoos, hair gels and hand lotions. (BzBP, see below, is also in some personal care products.)
    *DEHP (di-(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate or Bis (2-ethylhexyl) phthalate) is used in PVC plastics, including some medical devices.
    *BzBP (benzyl butyl phthalate) is used in some flooring, car products, and personal care products.
    *DMP (dimethyl phthalate) is used in insect repellent and some plastics (as well as rocket propellant)
2 - Avoid plastic whenever possible. Try to stick with plastic 2, 4, 5 or 6. Avoid 3 and 7. 1 does not contain phthalates, but should not be reused. 
3 - Buy products labeled "Phthalate Free"
4 - Get rid of your vinyl shower curtain. Use hemp, PEVA or organic cotton.  
5 - Also, check out this children's toy database for toys made before 2009. Click HERE for more info.

Although we are aware that completely eliminating harmful chemicals from our lives is close to impossible, Dunnock & Hinny believes that we can greatly reduce our exposure. We use phthalate free packaging and phthalate free scents. Our fragrance oils adhere to strict guidelines and standards put in place by the International Fragrance Association or IFRA, Prop 65 and Sara III. Any coloring used in our products is completely natural. We use organic ingredients whenever price and availability permits and we are always looking for ways to make our products not only healthier to humans, but to the environment. We are totally committed to our philosophy of mindful living.