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What are phthalates

Currently, numerous studies and scientific investigations have confirmed the endocrine disrupting property and toxicity of around 600 compounds, among them, phthalates. The most alarming thing about this statement is the fact that these chemical compounds are part of many of the materials and objects that we use the most in our day to day life. The use of plastics and polymers, of which phthalates are part, are a direct consequence of the lifestyle that modern society has been establishing in homes, workplaces and other environments of anthropic ecosystems around the planet. In this way, the presence of phthalates in cosmetics, as well as in soft toys for babies or even in food consumed daily,


If you want to learn more about phthalates, do not miss this interesting AgroCorrn article in which you will learn in detail what phthalates are , the effects they have on our health and some of the common products in which they are found.

You may also be interested in: What are endocrine disruptors
  1. What are phthalates
  2. Phthalates: health effects
  3. Where are phthalates found – products
  4. How to find phthalate-free products

What are phthalates

Phthalates are chemical compounds formed by aromatic diesters derived, specifically, from ortho-phthalic acid or terephthalic acid. They are liquid compounds with a light color and oily texture, whose solubility in water and volatile capacity are low. There are different types of phthalates , with Di 2-ethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP) being the most abundant.

Phthalates are included within the group of chemical plasticizers most used in the plastics industry . They are responsible for the flexibility capacity of various rigid plastics, such as polyvinyl chloride (CPV), used in the manufacture of tubes, valves, toys and pacifiers, among other objects.

During the last 15 years they have been widely studied, since their multiple applications have been the cause of different diseases in humans and animals . In this way, from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), DEHP phthalate was classified and recognized as a compound with endocrine disruptor property , its main contaminating mechanism being the activation of the network of proteins that regulate a wide variety of functions. cell phones within our body.

In the next sections of the article, the negative effects of phthalates on the health of people and animals are detailed, as well as the main objects, foods and products that we consume in our day to day that contain these harmful chemical components. We recommend you learn more about the topic of endocrine disruptors and, for this, at AgroCorrn we have prepared this other informative article on What are endocrine disruptors .

Phthalates: health effects

The first evidences of toxicity of phthalates in human health are relatively recent, since just fifteen years ago the scientific community began to be interested in the study and research of these chemical compounds. Since then, the different toxicological results of the effect of phthalates in laboratory animals and on human health have revealed the existence of various adverse biological effects linked to the exposure of phthalates and, mainly, to their metabolites. Thus, it has been established how the rapid hydrolysis of phthalates in certain animal organs (such as the lungs and intestines) determines the biological reactivity and, therefore, the serious toxicity of these chemical compounds.

Some of the most prominent health effects of phthalates are:

  • Obesity.
  • Reduced levels of sex hormones in men.
  • Alterations in the quality of semen.
  • Reduction of the anogenital distance in children, which can ease certain conditions over time.
  • Carcinogenic effects.

To detect the presence to a greater or lesser extent of phthalates in the body and relate it to the health effects mentioned above, the most widely used medical procedure is the biomonitoring of the metabolites of phthalates in urine. Currently, more and more countries are opting for phthalate biomonitoring studies as a preventive and detection measure in the public health of the population.

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Where are phthalates found – products

Now that we know what phthalates are and their toxic effects on health , let us know in detail through what means we can suffer exposure to these chemical components, as well as in which products they are frequently found.

The main route of exposure to phthalates is through food, that is, through the intake of food and the consumption of water and other beverages contained in plastic containers. On the other hand, the inhalation of phthalates present in the environment are also frequent, as well as the direct contact of the skin with different products rich in these harmful chemical compounds. Among the many products that contain phthalates, the following stand out:

  • Adhesives, rubbers, tablecloths, carpets and tires.
  • Detergents, lubricating oils, solvents and insecticides.
  • Phthalates in cosmetics and personal care products such as soap, deodorant, perfumes, hair spray, shampoo, nail polish, and creams.
  • Plastic bags.
  • Hoses
  • Photographic films.
  • Paintings.
  • In flexible plastic toys, such as soft rattles and baby teethers.
  • Shower curtains and blinds.
  • Beverages bottled in PET plastic , food containers, and plastic wrap are the main sources of exposure to phthalates in food.
  • Plastic pipes for plumbing.
  • Waterproofing products, furniture finishes, such as varnishes, and plastic construction materials.
  • Shoes and toothbrushes.
  • In medical devices such as blood bags and IV medical equipment.

How to find phthalate-free products

Due to the wide variety of products in which it is possible to find phthalates as one of their main components, it is essential to become aware of the consumption of these products, as well as the routine of controlling the labeling of those objects and materials prone to the presence phthalates .

From the European Union, various regulatory frameworkshave been established in recent years, with the aim of controlling and / or eliminating the main phthalates. In this way, new regulations are being applied in which the use of phthalates in cosmetics has been prohibited, as well as their presence in paints and varnishes restricted (Laws CE 36/2003, CE 93/2004, CE 90/2005 and CE 2/2009). Likewise, the use of these harmful chemical compounds has also been regulated in the field of the food industry (EC Law 19/2007); The sale and production of toys and other products intended for consumption by children is also prohibited (EC Law 84/2005). However, not all the products that come to us come from the European Union, among other aspects, and for this reason it is important to be well informed about the products we purchase.

If you want to read more articles similar to What are phthalates , we recommend that you enter our Pollution category .

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Hello, I am a blogger specialized in environmental, health and scientific dissemination issues in general. The best way to define myself as a blogger is by reading my texts, so I encourage you to do so. Above all, if you are interested in staying up to date and reflecting on these issues, both on a practical and informative level.

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