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If you happened to watch sixty minutes this past sunday, you will have seen the story about the dangers of phthalates, a subject that’s been a pet peeve of mine for quite sometime. They talked about the possible dangers of phthlates in regular consumer products and that pregnant women should beware, as phthlates could cause abnormalities in male babies. The data, however, is inconclusive, so naturally the plastics industry stepped in quick as lightening to say that all these phthalate-containing consumer products are perfectly safe. As a green girl, I take the precautionary principle: I won’t use anything until it’s proven to be safe, so in the case of phthalates, I’ll avoid them where possible until otherwise assured of their 100% safety. It’s also come to the attention of a few highly respected doctors and scientists that phthalates found in perfumes, cosmetics, shampoos, nail polishes etc, really can cause injury to the developing brain and cause neuro-developmental disorders. This is why it’s really important that women, particularly of childbearing age, take steps to try to minimize their exposure. The problem is that you won’t find the word “phthalate” on a label.

Phthalates are typcially found in highly perfumed products, as the compound that causes the scent to linger. These synthetic compounds have also been linked to a lower IQ and childhood obesity (ugh – can you believe it!). It’s quite horrendous that our children are basically “test subjects”. Only 200 of 82,000 chemicals have been tested for safety and the “safe” levels often don’t take a child’s size into account. Oh boy, I wish I’d known as much as I do now when I was pregnant. The inconvenient truth is that we’ve probably all got some degree of phthalates in our blood, but after minimizing their exposure, test subjects, had a dramatic reduction of levels in their blood. Here’s how to minimize your exposure – pass it on..

1. Avoid perfumes unless the company openly states that they do not use phthalates of any kind. I love Ajne Perfume, as they are strong, lasting, and yet made only of natural oils.

2. Avoid scented candles, unless you know that they have been mixed with organic essential oils.

3. Avoid all home/car air-fresheners.

4. Make sure that all your skin care products are either unscented or scented with organic essential oils.

5. Buy non-toxic nail polishes.

6. Avoid as many soft plastics in your home as possible: vinyl shower curtain, kid’s rain coats, soft/pliable plastic toys etc


  1. When it comes to children, the dangers of phthalates aren’t restricted to products with synthetic fragrance. They’re also in vinyl toys, most crib mattresses (phthalates are used to make the PVC/vinyl waterproof covering – they make it pliable) and other children’s products. Parents should stay clear of personal care and household products that contain phthalates, but they also have to watch out for soft PVC/vinyl products. It’s especially dangerous on crib mattresses since kids spent 12 to 15 hours a day sleeping on them, and anything a child could put in his mouth. You can find phthalates free crib mattresses (and pads, bedding, etc.) at Naturepedic ( Also, there are many stores on the Internet that sell toys and other children’s products that are phthalates free, as well as free from other toxins.

  2. My 2nd son was born in 1996 with hypospadias a condition treated with surgery by a pediatric urologist. This condition has been linked to phtlates. It is truly scary to send a 9 month old into surgery but he’s a healthy 14 year old who frequently refers to me as his hippie republican mom. But I am pretty vigliant now watching out for phthalates – hind site is 20/20.

  3. Sophie, I love your books and your blog. I’ve recently started a mission to throw out everything I own with dangerous chemicals in it and make as much of my cosmetics as I possibly can. Though I try to stay as organic as I can, I do love sugary-sweet scents in my bath products, which are difficult to achieve with essential oils. Thankfully, it is possible to buy fragrance oils that are Phthlate-free. I do agree with you that it’s best just to stay away from synthetically-scented products just in case, though. I’ve only found one company that uses Phthlate-free fragrance oils – Lollibomb Beauty in Jersey City ( Have you heard of it? The owner, Luca, is really sweet and all of her products are hazardous-chemical-free and vegan. 🙂

    I write a culture blog about diy beauty and fashion for girls who don’t have tons of money to spend and I haven’t written about Phthlates yet, but I’ve started writing about harmful chemicals found in cosmetics. Here’s one on Parabens: and another on Propylene Glycol:

    Anyway, thanks for being such an inspiration! <3

  4. Hi, this article was great! I’m wondering if you know anything about Scentsy bars? I purchased a few of their fragrance bars and I have a toddler…I’m worried now they aren’t safe….

  5. oooooooooh, thank you for discussing this topic! i remember first hearing about phalates and its affect on male offspring about 5 years ago, but nothing much since. i’ll have to create a link from my blog to this for my readers.

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