Posted by: soapchix | February 15, 2008

Ways to Avoid Phthalates

Since we have been writing about the whole phthalate problem, we have received lots of emails from concerned parents about phthalate-free products to use on their babies. It sure seems like the word is out that these dangerous chemicals can be avoided and that is good news.

But there is more good news. There are other ways to prevent exposure to phthalates and other chemicals. The Environmental Work Group provides a great newsletter that contains lots of information on how to become more “green” and how to discern what actually being “green” means. We just got a newsletter from them today with some great advice for avoiding phthalates. The article lists potential sources of the chemical and how to look for it. We have provided a portion of the article here:

Nail polish: Dibutyl phthalate is often used to make nail polish chip-resistant. Look for it on the ingredients list, where it may be shortened to DBP. Here is a list of nail polishes that do not contain Phthalates, Toluene or Formaldehyde.

Plastics in the kitchen: Take a critical eye to your cupboards. Phthalates may be more likely to leach out of plastic when it’s heated, so avoid cooking or microwaving in plastic.

Vinyl toys: Phthalates are what make vinyl (PVC) toys soft, so don’t give them to children. Opt instead for wooden and other phthalate-free toys, especially during that age when they put everything in their mouths!

Paint: Paints and other hobby products may contain phthalates as solvents, so be sure to use them in a well-ventilated space.

Fragrance: Diethyl phthalate (DEP) is often used as part of the “fragrance” in some products. Since DEP won’t be listed separately, you’re better off choosing personal care products, detergents, and cleansers that don’t have the word “fragrance” on the ingredients list. Like our Simply product line or Wild Child product line. All essential oils, all the time!

Vinyl: Vinyl shows up in a lot of different products; lawn furniture, garden hoses, building materials, and items of clothing (like some raincoats) are often sources. Aside from carefully choosing materials when you’re making purchases, there is one easy change you can make: switch to a non-vinyl shower curtain. That “new shower curtain” smell (you know the one) is a result of chemical off-gassing, and it means your shower curtain is a source of phthalates in your home.

Air Fresheners: New research from the NRDC demonstrates that, just like fragrances in personal care products, most air fresheners contain phthalates. That even goes for the ones labeled “fragrance free.” NRDC suggests that you “open your windows and use fans to circulate air and keep it fresh.” I suspect that NRDC doesn’t have loads of kids and pets running around stashing half eaten food under the coffee table and peeing on their couches like us Soapchix do (why do you mock us, potty training?!). Open windows don’t even begin to cover it. Luckily, all this soapmaking really perks up the general scent, so we’re lucky like that. But for non soapmakers out there, here’s a great article about ‘green(er)’ room fresheners.

Thinking about of all the potential dangers in consumer products, not just phthalates but lead, mercury, and others, it is a bit depressing and overwhelming. But if we really look at it from a consumer standpoint, we have the power to make changes. If we don’t buy this junk, they can’t continue to make it. Believe me, Tiff and I have learned the lesson of supply and demand (Anyone remember Tomato Leaf soap? Anyone? People didn’t buy it, and now we don’t sell it. Simple economics. Well, not really simple. Tiff did almost fail Econ 101 in college, but that’s another blog).

I think that the best part of trying to be a concious consumer is that I am actually consuming less. And I am trying to teach my kids about being conscious consumers, too.

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