Banned phthalates still found in consumer products
What are phthalates?
Phthalates, other than being difficult to pronounce, are a large group of chemicals often added to plastics to increase their flexibility and durability. Unfortunately, some chemicals in this group have been found to have harmful effects on human health, particularly on the reproductive and hormone systems. Certain phthalates have been restricted to various degrees but the results of a test this week by the Danish Consumer Council show that even banned phthalates are still in products consumers can buy off the shelves.
Investigating 30 different types of products made from soft plastic, the Danish Consumer Council found that nearly 1 in 4 contained phthalates that the EU restricted last year. The known endocrine disruptors, DEHP, DBP, DIBP are on the EU’s official list of unwanted chemicals due in particular to their effects on male fertility. However, these chemicals were some of the ones that the researchers found in a huge range of products they tested, from footballs to door mats and bathmats and even children’s toys, which are meant to have more stringent phthalate restrictions.
Products made before the restriction on these chemicals came into force are still allowed to be sold. Other phthalates suspected of being endocrine disruptors remain unrestricted and were also detected in the products tested by the council. Although the research was carried out in Denmark, it is not unreasonable to suspect a similarly broad range of products on the market in other European countries also contain restricted phthalates
Reducing your risk
Avoiding buying soft plastic products or looking for products that say they are ‘phthalate free’ is a good step towards reducing your exposure.
CHEM Trust works at UK and EU levels to ensure humans and wildlife are protected from hazardous chemicals. Find out more about what CHEM Trust wants to see in relation to endocrine disrupting chemicals such as phthalates in the UK government’s new chemicals strategy and find out more about our latest work on endocrine disrupting chemicals in the EU.