Thursday, March 06, 2014

Bad word: Phthalates


Hazard Score: (EWG Risk Score)

Hazard score key:

Low hazardModerate hazardHigh hazard
What is it?
Fragrance Ingredient; Plasticizer; Solvent

Phthalates are used to enhance fragrances to make them last longer and to denature alcohol. 

Where is it found?
They are found in many products including deodorants, fragrances, hair gels, mousses, hairsprays and hand and body lotions. 

The Risk:
Research has shown that phthalates disrupt the hormonal system and interfere with reproduction. 2002 study in the same journal found that one common type of phthalate, diethyl phthalate (DEP) is damaging to the DNA of sperm in adult men at current levels of exposure. DNA damage to sperm can lead to infertility. DEP is a popular fragrance ingredient and the phthalate that is found in the highest levels in humans. Although some manufacturers have reduced their use of phthalates over the last 8 years, recent product tests found that many fragrances still contain high levels of DEP. Another phthalate, dibutyl phthalate (DBP), has been a favourite ingredient in nail polishes, and US women of child-bearing age have been found to have high levels of DBP. As well, butyl benzyl phthalate (BBP), used to make nail polishes and lipsticks glossy, has been linked in animal studies to an increased risk of breast cancer. For several years, the European Union has banned DBP, BBP and DEHP (di(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate) from use in cosmetics, but in Canada and the US there are no restrictions on any phthalates in cosmetics. 

A couple "natural" companies using this ingredient:
  • Kiss My Face
  • LUSH
  • many small "all natural",  "Eco-friendly" toting companies on Etsy
My Opinion:
Be aware because most companies do not list phthalates on their labels. But anything that contains "fragrance" can contain phthalates. Because companies do not need to disclose the ingredients in "fragrance" it could be in any product that with "fragrance" listed on the label.

Phthalates are some of the nastiest chemicals out there that find their way into our everyday lives and are in so many products we come into contact with daily. 

As I've said, always read the labels before using any products coming into contact with yourself. And sometimes you have to read between the lines of what these companies are not telling you as well.