Phthalates - harm of a pungent odor from toys
The production of plastic and most types of rubber is completely unthinkable without the use of special additives - plasticizers. They make the material more durable and durable, due to them are acquired such properties as transparency and flexibility.
Among plasticizers of plastic the first place is occupied by phthalates. But these chemicals are used not only in industry. In today's world, it is hardly possible to meet a person who is not exposed to them. Consider what phthalates are, what harm they do to health and how to avoid their negative influence.
Phthalates and their types
Phthalates - what is it? This group of substances, the chemical structure is a phthalic acid ester (dialkyl or alkyl aryl esters of 1,2-benzenedicarboxylic acid).
Due to their properties they are inexpensive plasticizers, which are added to PVC (approximately 90% of products), rubber, paints. Their use of phthalates found in other areas, mainly in cosmetic and perfume production. In decorative cosmetics they are added to give softness, create an oil film, as a solvent and a binding component.
There are two groups of phthalates: low (3-6 carbon atoms in the molecule) and high (more than 6) molecular weight. It is believed that the more toxic phthalates belong to the first group.
Factories that produce phthalates, strongly pollute the environment, damage the environment. Annually about 1 million tons of these chemicals are produced. The following types of plasticizers were most widely used.
- Diethyl phthalate (DEP) is one of the most popular monoethyl phthalates. In cosmetic production, it is used as a solvent and a deterrent for odors, and as a substitute for alcohol.
- Di (n-butyl) phthalate (DBP) is also widely used in cosmetics. It is a common component of nail polish.
- Di (2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP). The dominant plasticizer, whose low cost and excellent technological qualities determine its universal application as an additive to polyvinyl chloride, including expanded PVC, other construction and finishing materials. Also used in perfumery.
Most often, in the list of ingredients on the label, phthalates hide behind the designation of "flavors" ("perfume").
- Dimethyl phthalate - what is it? It is used as a plasticizer of cellulose ethers, vinyl polymers, rubbers. It is also known as a substance that is part of preparations that repel blood-sucking insects.
- Dibutyl phthalate is used as a component of plastics based on polyvinyl chloride, rubbers, epoxy resins, certain cellulose ethers and as a high boiling solvent. It is part of the BF-6 glue. Dibutyl phthalate is also used as a deterrent for insects.
Currently, due to the negative influence of this group of substances on health, there is a general tendency to replace low molecular weight (DEHP) high (DINP and DIDP) phthalates as the preferred plasticizer.
Phthalate compounds abbreviation:
- BBP is butyl phenyl phthalate;
- DNOP - dioctyl phthalate;
- DHP-di-n-hexyl phthalate;
- DIDP-di-zodecyl phthalate;
- DBP-di (n-butyl) phthalate;
- DEHP-di (2-ethylhexyl) phthalate;
- DEP is diethylphthalate.
These data will help you navigate when reading information about the product.
Where Phthalates Are Contained
Plasticizers are found everywhere, because they are part of plastic and rubber, cosmetics and medical products. The most common products containing phthalates are the following items.
- Children's toys made of PVC and rubber - balls, dolls, nipples, teethers, teeth, in braids for weaving. Children use them for creativity, creating various crafts: bracelets, charms, figurines.
- Cosmetics - varnishes for nails and hair, shampoos, sunscreen products.
- Perfumery - deodorants.
- Stretch ceiling. A PVC film of poor quality will release high doses of harmful substances into the air.
- Window frames from PVC.
- Hoses, pipes.
- Finishing materials in the car interior.
- Medical products - catheters, tubes, blood transfusion systems, shells of some tablets.
- Packaging materials.
- Carpet and wall coverings.
As you can see, if you use the benefits of civilization, contact with phthalates can not be avoided.
What harm from phthalates
Why are phthalates dangerous for human health? Most of these substances belong to the group of low-toxic drugs. This means that in those concentrations, which are stipulated by regulatory enactments (a tenth of a percent), they do not cause negative impact.
The greatest practical importance is the problem of the accumulation of phthalates in the body and chronic poisoning. The trouble is that these compounds are able to accumulate in the body, and the action of different types of them is summarized. The situation is further aggravated by the fact that some producers do not comply with the norms.
The issue of the dangers of phthalates was initially raised in the US in 2003 based on the results of a study by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. It was found out that these substances are easily released from plastic products - because they are chemically unrelated to PVC, and accumulate in the air. In the body they get with food, drinking water, through the lungs and skin. In the body, they are converted into metabolites (mainly monoethylphthalates), are carried to all organs and tissues, affect the liver, kidneys, respiratory organs and affect the hormonal background. Phthalates are considered to be anti-androgens - substances that inhibit the production of male sex hormones.
According to research data of scientists from different countries, they provoke the development of the following diseases.
- Violation of the activity of sexual glands (DEHP).
- Breast cancer - DEHP, diethyl phthalate and dibutyl phthalate, the effect on humans is revealed in studies of women at risk.
- Increased phthalates in the air (DEHP and BBZP) causes asthma in children.
- Female and male infertility.
- Decrease in testosterone production.
- In men, they promote abdominal obesity (fat accumulation in the abdomen), insulin resistance (a precursor of type 2 diabetes), increase the risk of developing testicular cancer.
- Children cause disruption of puberty (girls speed up, boys slow down, they become feminine), overall development and behavior. South Korean specialists have identified a relationship of increased phthalates in the urine with attention deficit disorder and hyperactivity. It is established that children under the age of three are more vulnerable to the effects of phthalates. These dangerous substances can be contained in shampoos, powders, creams and lotions, toys and utensils made of PVC.
- Pregnant women may develop developmental defects: reproductive organs of the fetus (in boys - underdevelopment of the penis, incubation of testicles in the scrotum). Phthalates from the biochemical point of view substitute for estrogen, which adversely affects the course of pregnancy.
How to protect yourself from phthalates
Unfortunately, there are no ways to determine phthalates at home.
- Advice to avoid PVC products is not always feasible.
- The smell of phthalate, which is released in large concentrations, is quite sharp, so you need to get rid of such products.
- Buy products from trusted manufacturers.
- During pregnancy, reduce the use of cosmetics and perfumes to a minimum. In Sweden, studies have shown that 80% of cosmetics on the market contain phthalates, and they are not indicated on the labels. Currently, there are manufacturers who produce cosmetics without phthalates.
- Be wary of waterproof cosmetics.
- Be responsible for choosing toys for children. It is recommended to buy toys that have the CE mark on the package.
You can read the information on the labels, but not always the producers correctly indicate the composition of the products. The following data will help you to orient yourself.
- In Europe, DEHP, BBP and DBP are limited for all toys; DINP, DIDP and DNOP are limited in toys that can be taken in the mouth (content less than 0.1%).
- In the United States, DEHP, DBP, or BBP are limited; in goods for children under the age of three more DIDP, DNOP and DINP.
The availability of commodity producers, which voluntarily refuse DEHP and DINP in the nipples, from phthalates in elastic bands, teethers, etc., helps the cause.
Summarizing, we note that the problem of phthalates exists and requires an immediate solution. To minimize the harmful effects of these toxic substances will help the right choice of the producer, the rejection of products from cheap plastics and the interest in using environmentally friendly products, be it cosmetics or finishing materials.