If bisphenol-A (BPA) wasn’t enough to get your attention as a hormone disruptor used in plastic products, here’s another hormone disrupter that is used in both plastics and cosmetics. It’s awkwardly spelled phthalate, but pronounced THA-late with a short “a” in the first syllable.
Phthalates are plasticizing agents used in plastic materials and as gels, fillers and scent stabilizers for cosmetics. The fact that they are hormone disruptors has caused medical researchers to look into phthalates as a causal link to obesity, diabetes, fertility or sexual hormonal disorders, and even cancer.
A majority within a large group of Americans tested by the CDC (Center for Disease Control) showed high amounts of phthalates in their urine.
Pthalates Are in Most Plastic Products
There many types of phthalates. Some are used in a variety of plastic products ranging from industrial PCVs for electronic equipment and vinyl coverings, rain coats, shower curtains, plastic toys, inks, paints, packaging, as well as plastic food and beverage containers.
Phthalates are chemically unstable and usually released into the atmosphere as plastics get older. They are also easily released into the foods and beverages contained, becoming part of the foods eaten that were packaged by them. For example, if you drink water from a water bottle (especially one that has been exposed to heat), then you are likely ingesting phthalates.
Some pharmaceutical or supplement capsules require enteric coatings because their contents are compromised by stomach acids before getting into the small intestines where they are absorbed into the blood stream. Unfortunately, phthalates are commonly used for enteric coatings. That’s a hard one to avoid sometimes, but you can avoid other sources easily.Most products require phthalates to be listed, but often they’ll have the word phthalate show up as a word or syllable in a complex tongue twisting chemical term or terms. Regardless of the terms’ complexity, phthalate will usually be visible as a word in a string of words or as a syllable in the multi-syllabic tongue twister.
The simplest way to avoid ingesting phthalates is to stop using plastics. But if you do use plastics, plastic containers with the recycling symbols or numbers 2, 4, and 5, commonly located on the bottom of containers within arrow bordered triangles, are usually phthalate free.