What Are Phthalates & Are They Safe?



Phthalates are chemicals whose purpose is to increase the durability and longevity of plastics. They are also found in fragrances. Exposure can come from contaminated food, personal products, or other household products.




What Products Have Phthalates In Them?

Products containing phthalates include:

  • Toys

  • Detergents 

  • Food packaging (ortho-phthalates are found in many types of food)

  • Pharmaceuticals

  • Personal care products and cosmetics

  • Medical equipment 

  • Flooring and wall coverings

  • Fragrances

Are Phthalates Safe? 

Phthalates are not safe and are included in our recommended list of chemicals to avoid. Although there have been hundreds of studies showing that phthalates are toxic, unfortunately, the CDC and FDA have not established that there is an association between phthalates and increased health risks [1]. Thus, phthalate chemicals in cosmetic products are not subject to FDA approval before they enter the market for consumers. 

Health Impacts of Phthalates

Phthalate exposure in children has been linked to negative developmental effects, which include allergies, rhinitis, asthmatic reactions, and direct toxicity [2]. PVC medical tubing made of phthalates has been hypothesized to cause negative respiratory effects in neonates [3]. 

Due to their endocrine-disrupting effects, exposure to phthalates in plastic has been correlated with:

  • Endocrine and reproductive dysregulation

  • Early puberty

  • Endometriosis

  • Sex anomalies

  • Infertility

  • Altered fetal development [4]

Phthalates pose a potential threat to pregnant women because they can cause fetal growth restriction and lowered placental weight

Recommended Alternatives to Phthalates 

Other than avoiding phthalates and plastics, recommended alternatives include:

  • Citrates

  • Sebacates

  • Adipates

  • Phosphates


How to Avoid Phthalates 

You can reduce your exposure to phthalates by:

  • Using phthalate free fragrances instead of unscented ones 

  • Opting for plastic-free products

  • Choosing USDA certified organic foods

  • Purchasing a water filter

  • You can find our recommended personal care and household products on our Approved Products list!

Purchase our test kit and learn about your harmful chemical exposures.


[1] https://www.fda.gov/media/87551/download
[2] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15471731/
[3] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/3422189/
[4] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7460375/#B33-ijerph-17-05655