Have you heard of phthalates? It’s hard to type but even harder to say. Try “thal-ate”. Well, phthalates are a chemical found in soft PVC plastics (vinyl), nail polish, and synthetic fragrances. These nasty little chems where introduced in the 30’s and are responsible for that new shower curtain smell and the odor of conventional nail polish. Phthalates are absorbed into our body through fumes. When baby mouths that soft, vinyl bath book or teether toy she takes in a mouthful of phthalates as well. Phthalates are so common that when the CDC tested 289 people in 2000, they found phthalates in all of the subjects’ blood at surprisingly high levels.
If this makes you nervous, you’re starting to see a pattern. Synthetic chemicals (particularly from plastic) that build up in our bodies are rarely safe. Here’s some info from the Environmental Working Group: “Phthalates are endocrine disruptors linked to problems of the reproductive system, including decreased sperm motility and concentration in men and genital abnormalities in baby boys. (Oh, and did you know that average sperm counts have decreased significantly since the 1940’s?) More recently they’ve also been linked to asthma and allergies.” The Environmental Working Group also has a rather depressing article showing that 45 studies demonstrate a strong link between phthalate exposure and the development of allergies and asthma. If you’ve set out to avoid BPA, say “no” to phthalates as well.
If you want to purge your house of phthalates, start by searching for type 3 plastics. If you find the number “3” in a triangle on a soft plastic item, it contains phthalates. Here are some probable sources of phthalates in your home: shower curtain, baby toys (teethers, bath books, balls, dolls) , baby bibs, waterproof mattress protectors, nail polish, cosmetics that contain the word “fragrance” in the ingredients, air fresheners with artificial fragrances. You can replace your plastic shower curtain with a fabric one from www.Greenfeet.com. Switch to non-toxic nail polishes like Polished Mama (available at EuphoriaMaternity.com) and pure cosmetics that are fragrance-free or scented with pure essential oils. All Earth Mama Angel Baby products (available at EuphoriaMaternity.com and EuphoriaBaby.com) are phthalate-free.
Baby toys can be difficult. Most plastic baby books or “bath” books are PVC. Opt for cloth books instead. For teethers, try natural wood teethers or cloth teethers. If that won’t do, search for plastic teethers specifically marketed as “phthalate-free”. Choose rubber balls, cloth dolls, and cloth or silicone bibs. For a non-vinyl waterproof mattress protector, use wool or check out our organic cotton choices from Naturepedic.