Phthalates (pronounced THA-lates) are chemicals that can make products (usually plastics) softer and more flexible. They are a principal component of many diverse products that consumers come into contact with at home and at work. Phthalates are used in:
- PVC products
- Cosmetics, nail polish, perfumes
- Personal care goods
- Building materials
Phthalates have been shown to have low acute toxicity in animals resulting in:
- Foetal death
- Injury of the testicles
- Liver damage
- Endocrine disruptor
Dangers to children
As parents, we are often mindful of the dangers that cheap plastic toys pose to our kids. Oftentimes, infants tend to put toys in their mouths and chew on them. As they grow into kindy kids, they love the brand new shiny toys purchased from the local toy stores or online. The toy industry is a massive industry with over $20 billon US dollars in annual sales. However, many of these toys have phthalates in them and long-term exposure is a concern for parents.
Complementary medicine studies
There have been previous CAM studies that have shown that continued exposure to phthalates from various sources from shampoos, perfumes, nail polish, plastic toys, house building materials and more can accumulate in the body over time.
Now, the most recent study published in the journal Environment International has shown that early-life exposure to certain phthalates is linked to lowered thyroid function in young girls up to 3 years of age. The researchers found little evidence that prenatal exposure to phthalates affected thyroid function at age 3.
Phthalates are hormone-altering chemicals known as endocrine disruptors. Previously, animal studies have shown that phthalates block testosterone which disrupts male sexual differentiation and may result in foetal abnormalities. Another research study on humans from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst USA looking at 50 couples undergoing in vitro fertilization (IVF) showed that preconception exposures to phthalates in fathers may also affect embryo development.
All these studies indicate that parents should be mindful of exposing their children to phthalates as beside effecting endocrine regulation, many Complementary Medicine practitioners believe that phthalates may also interfere with the immune system and this can significantly increase the risk of developing allergies.