Phthalates

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Phthalates, also known as phthalate esters, are group of chemical compounds used to make plastics like polyvinyl chloride (PVC) more resilient or flexible. They are also used as solvents. Because of phthalate use in PVC plastic, PVC plastic has earned the nickname "The Poison Plastic." Phthalates are used in toys, food packaging, hoses, raincoats, shower curtains, vinyl flooring, wall coverings, lubricants, adhesives, detergents, nail polish, hair spray, shampoo, and even sex toys.[1] According to Environmental Working Group:[2] "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, according to the U.S. Center for Disease Control’s 2005 National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals." Due to their toxicity, several phthalates have been banned from use in toys in the United States.[3] Phthalates, such as DEHP, have been found in sewage sludge.

Phthalates include:

Uses

Phthalates are used in:[4][5]

  • Adhesives
  • Automotive Plastics
  • Blood Product Storage Bags
  • Deodorants
  • Detergents
  • Food Packaging
  • Fragrances
  • Hair Spray
  • Hoses
  • Intravenous Medical Tubing
  • Lotions
  • Lubricants
  • Medical Devices
  • Nail Polish
  • Plastic Bags
  • Raincoats
  • Sex Toys
  • Shampoo
  • Shower Curtains
  • Soap
  • Solvents
  • Toys
  • Vinyl Flooring
  • Wall Coverings

Prohibition of Phthalates in Toys

In August 2008, George W. Bush signed the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008.[6] The bill banned several phthalates (DEHP, DBP, and BBP) from "any children’s toy or child care article" in concentrations greater than 0.1 percent. The ban took effect February 10, 2009, 180 days after the bill was signed. Additionally, the bill called on the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to evaluate three other phthalates: DINP, DIDP, and DnOP. Those three chemicals would also be banned on February 10, 2009 in all children's toys that can be placed in a child's mouth or child care articles until the CPSC made a final rule determining their safety and legality. For the purposes of this law, the CPSC defines a "child care article" as any "consumer product designed or intended by the manufacturer to facilitate sleep or the feeding of children age 3 and younger, or to help such children with sucking or teething."[7]

Phthalates in the Environment

Phthalates are not chemically bound to the plastics to which they are added, so they are often released into the environment. They have been found in foods, indoor and outdoor ambient air, dust, water, sediments, and sewage sludge.[8][9]

Human Exposure

Humans can inhale or ingest phthalates. To a lesser extent, they can absorb phthalates through their skin. Hospital patients may also be exposed through intravenous or parenteral routes. CDC data shows that Americans have measurable levels of phthalates and their breakdown products in their urine.[10][11]

Plastic Industry Propaganda

Although the health effects of phthalates are the subject of many scientific studies, the plastics industry continues to claim that they are safe. For example, the European Council for Plasticisers and Intermediates runs the website Phthalates.com, a site that claims phthalates "do not pose a risk to human health or the environment."[12]

Articles and resources

Related SourceWatch articles

References

  1. Phthalates, Environmental Working Group, Accessed August 14, 2010.
  2. Phthalates, Environmental Working Group, Accessed August 14, 2010.
  3. Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008, Govtrack.us, Accessed August 14, 2010.
  4. Phthalates, Environmental Working Group, Accessed August 14, 2010.
  5. Centers for Disease Control, Fourth National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals, Accessed August 5, 2010
  6. Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008, Govtrack.us, Accessed August 14, 2010.
  7. "Phthalates: Section 108 of the Consumer Product Section 108 of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008", Consumer Product Safety Commission, December 17, 2009, Accessed August 14, 2010.
  8. Centers for Disease Control, Fourth National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals, Accessed August 5, 2010
  9. Jill Richardson, "What San Francisco Found in Their Own Sludge", La Vida Locavore, April 8, 2010, Accessed August 14, 2010.
  10. Centers for Disease Control, Fourth National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals, Accessed August 5, 2010
  11. Centers for Disease Control, Fourth National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals: Updated Tables, Accessed August 5, 2010
  12. What Are Phthalates, Phthalates.com, European Council for Plasticisers and Intermediates, Accessed August 14, 2010.

External resources

External articles