Diethylphthalate is a man-made colorless liquid with a slight aromatic odor and a bitter,disagreeable taste. Trade names include neantine, peilatinol A, and solvanol. Diethyl phthalate is manufactured for many uses. It is commonly used to make plastics more flexible. Because diethyl phthalate is not a part of the chain of chemicals (polymers) which makes up the plastics, it can be released fairly easily from these products. These plastics are found in products such as toothbrushes, automobile parts, tools,toys, and food packaging. Diethyl phthalate is also used in cosmetics,insecticides, and aspirin.
Diethyl phthalate can enter your body when you breathe air, drink water, or eat food containing it. It can also enter your body through your skin. It is possible that exposure could occur near hazardous waste sites, at manufacturing facilities, or through the use of consumer products containing the substance. If you get it on your skin, your body will probably absorb only a small amount of it. We do not know how much you will absorb if you breathe or eat it. Once it enters your body, it breaks down into other chemicals, some of which are harmful. Diethyl phthalate and its breakdown products will leave your body mostly in the urine within about 2 days. Only small amounts of the compound or its breakdown products will remain in the tissues.
Triclosan is an antibacterial and antifungal agent. It is a polychloro phenoxy phenol. It is widely used as a preservative and antimicrobial agent in personal care.
This chemical was first brought to market in 1969 by the drug company Novartis for hospital use but was soon spread to the consumer market en masse. The chemical compound, which is an organic polychloro phenoxy phenol, breaks down to a dioxin when used in products after targeting bacteria through fatty acid synthesis.
Recent studies have suggested it has numerous and severe adverse health and environmental risks, especially after the compound degrades to dioxin. There’s now mounting efforts to issue a triclosan ban in the U.S. because of these risks,and many companies are discreetly reformulating their products that contained the dangerous compound.
Prenatal exposure to chemicals in personal care products may speed puberty in girls
Over the past 20 years, studies have shown that girls and possibly boys have been experiencing puberty at progressively younger ages. This is troubling news, as earlier age at puberty has been linked with increased risk of mental illness, breast and ovarian cancer in girls and testicular cancer in boys.
Researchers in the School of Public Health found that daughters of mothers who had higher levels of diethyl phthalate and triclosan in their bodies during pregnancy experienced puberty at younger ages. The same trend was not observed in boys.
Diethyl phthalate is often used as a stabilizer in fragrances and cosmetics. The antimicrobial agent triclosan – which the FDA banned from use in hand soap in 2017 because it was shown to be ineffective – is still used in some toothpastes.
Researchers suspect that many chemicals in personal care products can interfere with natural hormones in our bodies, and studies have shown that exposure to these chemicals can alter reproductive development in rats. Chemicals that have been implicated include phthalates, which are often found in scented products like perfumes, soaps and shampoos; parabens, which are used as preservatives in cosmetics; and phenols, which include triclosan. However, few studies have looked at how these chemicals might affect the growth of human children.
The CHAMACOS study recruited pregnant women living in the farm-working, primarily Latino communities of Central California’s Salinas Valley between 1999 and 2000. While the primary aim of the study was to examine the impact of pesticide exposure on childhood development, the researchers used the opportunity to examine the effects of other chemicals as well.
The team measured concentrations of phthalates, parabens and phenols in urine samples taken from mothers twice during pregnancy, and from children at the age of 9.
They then followed the growth of the children — 159 boys and 179 girls — between the ages of 9 and 13 to track the timing of developmental milestones marking different stages of puberty.
The vast majority — more than 90 percent — of urine samples of both mothers and children showed detectable concentrations of all three classes of chemicals, with the exception of triclosan which was present in approximately 70 percent of samples.
The researchers found that every time the concentrations of diethyl phthalate and triclosan in the mother’s urine doubled, the timing of developmental milestones in girls shifted approximately one month earlier. Girls who had higher concentrations of parabens in their urine at age 9 also experienced puberty at younger ages. However, it is unclear if the chemicals were causing the shift, or if girls who reached puberty earlier were more likely to start using personal care products at younger ages.
Consumers who are concerned about chemicals in personal care products can take practical steps to limit their exposure.