This Bad Guy Is Everywhere

Have you heard about phthalate? (Pronounced THAL ate) Yikes! Talk about your basic poison! And it’s everywhere! For instance one phthalate is PVC, polyvinylchloride, which is often used in our bathroom and kitchen pipes.

Phthalate is a softener added to plastics, cosmetics and everything else they can lay their hands on.

And, of course, it knocks the endocrine system–thyroid, adrenals, etc.–for a loop. The endocrine system, the boss of your health, always loses when it keeps company with poisons.

As with so many things, kids get hit harder because their small bodies get overwhelmed.

It starts in utero. Perhaps Mom uses a hair spray guaranteed to keep her hair in place without making it stiff. Phthalate.

And maybe Mom gets her nails done with a polish that’s extra crack resistant. Phthalate.

Then there’s the phthalate fixative in perfumes. And, often, in deodorant, moisturizers, sun screen, liquid soap, etc.

Here’s the big problem: Phalates are toxic, and can do permanent damage to kids, especially boys, but nobody’s setting off alarms to alert moms and moms-to-be that this stuff goes straight to the baby and does dastardly things. And we’re not talking minor things. For one instance, phthalate negatively affects the genital development of boys.

And the beat goes on after birth, too. Did you know that most baby talc, baby shampoo and baby lotion contain phthalate?

As do soft teething rings. And bath toys. Rubber ducky is a bad guy! Who knew?

And phthalate interferes with the enzyme aromatase, which is critical in masculinizing male brains. In fact, phthalates go the other way, demasculinizing male brains. No more John Waynes with phthalate around.

Plus, phthalate can cause premature breast development in our baby girls. From diapers to bras in a jiffy. Nobody wants that for their little girl.

And there’s evidence that phthalate is behind the huge increase in allergies and asthma in recent years. Perhaps because some prescription drugs, even some supplements, come with enteric coatings that contain phthalate.

Medicine includes phthalate in IV bags and tubing. If something’s flexible and plastic, ask about it.

Which means inquiring minds want to know if the flexible plastic tubing in Keurig coffee makers contain phthalate. Seems to be a secret.

The Environmental Protection Agency has studies that prove exposure to even low doses of phthalate has a significant impact on health, but the FDA responds with nice little reports saying everything’s just fine, move along, nothing to see here.

So what can we do to protect ourselves?

Read labels. Not all products are required to list phthalates, but read the labels. Phthalate can be listed as DEHP, DINP, DBP, DEP, or DIP. Personally? I’d suspect any group of letters ending in a P. If the label doesn’t tell you what you need to know, the front of the package may say phthalate isn’t present.

And don’t use plastic bottles or containers with a recycle code (on the bottom, in the little triangle) of one, three or seven. Codes one and three include phthalate. Code 7 means “other,” so anything goes.

Finally, if you ever need a blood transfusion, ask if they use phthalate-free tubing. Same for dialysis. As if you don’t have enough problems at that point.

But let’s end with good news. There are other, safer plastics. One, ABS, doesn’t, with some exceptions, whack our health. If the kitchen and bathroom pipes are black, it’s a good sign you’re looking at ABS pipe. Some people refer to ABS as “all black stuff.”

But it comes in other colors, too. For instance, Legos are made from ABS. Golf clubs, too. Luggage. And so on.

It shouldn’t be this complicated. At least the European Union banned phthalate. Now the FDA (and the rest of the gang) needs to see the light and start doing what they were created to do–protect us.

God is good,
Bette Dowdell

About the author: Bette is all about determination. A month before her first birthday, a drunk driver smashed into her parents’ car, and she ended up with a concussion. The concussion put her endocrine system (the thyroid and the rest of the gang) pretty much out of business. Well, that system controls all of health, life was a mess, but doctors didn’t help. So, she got her Oh-Yeah! attitude in gear and researched her way out. Now she writes about how your body works and what you can do to make it work better. Good, eh? Subscribe to her free health e-mails at

The content of the Too Pooped To Participate blog is provided as general information only.

© by Bette Dowdell. All rights reserved

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