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Phthalates- What is it and why you want to avoid it?

I have one rule and its not a hard and fast rule per se, but generally, if I am unable to pronounce the name of something, I don’t want it in my food and on my body.

I have no idea how to pronounce phthalates (do you?) but right off the bat, it sounds like something I don’t want to use.

What are phthalates anyway?

Phthalates are a class of chemical that makes plastic soft and pliable. So things like disposable water bottles are very likely to have been made with phthalates. However, not because something is made with a chemical means that you will be exposed to the chemical. There are real concerns though that the chemical can be leached into your food especially at different temperatures.

Why should you try to stay away from phthalates?

This chemical has been linked to many illnesses, too many to list all of them. The list includes things like asthma, attention deficit disorder, diabetes, behavioral issues and a whole slew of other things. There is even a bill passed in 2008 banning phthalates from children’s products because there is a legitimate concern about what the chemical can do to growing bodies. Do I need to go any further to convince you that you probably should try to stay away from it? 

If you thought that was bad news, here is worse news. It’s virtually impossible to avoid if you are a part of this modern world. Let’s say you decide to never use another plastic container again and to avoid everything plastic. What you might not have realized is that your products could have been exposed to phthalate even before it gets to you. Scary isn’t it? While difficult to avoid it altogether you can certainly take some steps to limit your exposure.

Steps to avoid phthalates

  1. Find labels that state exactly the product that is phthalate-free
  2. You can choose products that are packaged in glass and limit plastic packaging. Reusable water bottles such as this one are not only healthier for you but better for the environment.
  3. It is nearly impossible to avoid all products that come packaged in plastic. You can remove the item from the plastic packaging and place in glass. That will reduce the amount of contact time with the plastic has been made to reduce the exposure
  4. Avoid buying products that include fragrance as an ingredient. Fragrance is a generic term that does not include all the ingredients used and it can contain various toxins
  5. Avoid buying vinyl products such as vinyl shower curtains, raincoats, baby change mats, vinyl floors and more
  6. If you do have vinyl or plastic items, avoid placing them in direct sunlight since this can release the chemicals in the air
  7. Avoid products that contain any of these ingredients, which are all phthalates
    • Dibutyl Phthalate (DBP)
    • Diisononyl Phthalate (DiNP)
    • Dioctyl Phthalate (DNOP)
    • Di (2-ethylhexl) Phthalate (DEHP)
    • Diethyl Phthalate (DEP)
    • Benzyl Butyl Phthalate (BBzP)
    • Dinhexyl Phthalate (DnHP)
    • Diisodecyl Phthalate (DiDP)
    • Dimethyl Phthalate (DMP)
    • Dinoctylphthalate (DnOP)

Unfortunately, phthalates are a bi-product of our modern life and a price to pay for convenience. It is useful but comes with a long list of suspected side effects. We can try to avoid it as consumers, but unless there is a government intervention that’s the best we can do. Never underestimate the power of awareness, though. In learning about the existence of phthalates and what to look for in your products that will lower your overall exposure and in so doing, your overall risk of getting an illness.

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Are your water bottles making you sick from phthalates
Niki
Author: Niki

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