The public, and especially parents, are becoming more aware of toxic chemicals found in plastic, and most ethical retailers are no longer carrying plastic items (baby bottles, water bottles, toys) that contain bisphenol A (BPA).
BPA isn’t the only harmful chemical found in plastics, people also need to be aware of phthalates. Phthalates are pervasive in the environment and used in everything from vinyl floors, to food containers, to children’s toys, to cosmetics (hair sprays, lotions, make up, powders, nail polishes, perfumes). Phthalates are used in some but not all PVC formulations, and there are no labelling requirements for phthalates specifically. PVC plastics, typically used for various containers and hard packaging, are labelled “Type 3” for recycling reasons. Since all cosmetic products in Canada should be labelled with their ingredients, check for phthalates in your cosmetics using their full name, i.e., dibutyl phthalate and diethyl phthalate. To see if there are harmful ingredients such as phthalates in your cosmetics or baby care products, go to www.cosmeticsdatabase.com to find out more about the products you are using. Recently, a study published in International Journal of Andrology found that elevated levels of phthalates in pregnant women’s urine are linked to less-masculine play behaviour by their sons several years later. Phthalates have become associated with changes in development of the male brain as well as with genital defects, metabolic abnormalities and reduced testosterone in babies and adults. To learn more about phthalates and other harmful chemicals in our environment, visit the Environmental Working Group at www.ewg.org.