Phthalates are a type of plasticizer that is commonly used in toys. They are mainly useful to manufacturers as they make plastics and vinyl softer and more flexible. However, there is growing evidence that phthalates can be harmful to children’s health. Several studies believe that ingesting or inhaling phthalates and being otherwise exposed to these chemicals can be potentially harmful, especially for growing kids.
Owing to their bad health impacts, they have been banned in the European Union, the United States, and some other countries. In addition to children, scientists think that such chemicals can interfere with our hormones and may further lead to fertility problems in both men and women. They’ve also been connected to childhood obesity, cardiovascular issues, neurological problems, and asthma.
The US Consumer Product Safety Commission has voted to ban five kinds of phthalate chemicals from toys and the vote was 3 to 2 in favor of restrictions. However, some countries are still not paying attention to the harmful effects of this chemical leading manufacturers to confusion and trouble when creating toys for kids.
Hence, we have compiled a comprehensive guide on phthalates and why they should be banned in toys.
What are Phthalates?
Phthalates are a group of chemicals used to make plastics more flexible and durable. They are often used in children’s toys, as well as in other products like food packaging, cosmetics, and cleaning products. Phthalates can be harmful to human health, particularly to children.
You can’t see, smell, and taste them, but they’re present in hundreds of consumer products you use every day. Phthalates can get into your body in various ways, such as eating or drinking things served or packaged in plastic, using cosmetics and other personal care products, or having contact with children’s toys.
Some of the most common uses for phthalates include:
- Toys – Phthalates are often used in soft plastic toys, such as dolls and action figures. They can also be found in rubber balls, latex gloves, and other children’s products.
- Carpets – Phthalates are used in carpet backing and adhesives. They help to make carpets softer and more flexible.
- Flooring – They are sometimes used in vinyl flooring and other types of flooring materials.
- Clothing – Phthalates can be found in some types of clothing, such as raincoats and shoes.
- Household items – These chemicals are also used in a variety of household products, such as shower curtains, food storage containers, and detergents.
However, there’s some concern that phthalates may be harmful to human health, especially to children. Studies have linked phthalates to hormone disruption, birth defects, and other health problems.
How do Phthalates Impact the Human Health?
Wondering are Phthalates safe or can you use these chemicals when manufacturing toys? Well, unfortunately, there’s no specific answer to this question as Phthalates are not a single chemical; rather, there’s an entire family of them and like all other chemical families, they don’t all behave the same way.
Before we jump to the conclusion, let’s find out how these chemicals impact human health and why they should be permanently banned from toys and other products intended to help children.
Fertility and Reproductive Issues
Phthalates have been shown to interfere with hormone production, which can lead to problems with fertility. Studies have also linked phthalates to an increased risk of miscarriage and birth defects.
Phthalate exposure can also cause reproductive problems. They can also cause birth defects and developmental problems in infants and children.
There is growing evidence that phthalates, a group of chemicals found in many products, like toys and other household items, may be linked to asthma. One study found that children exposed to higher levels of phthalates were more likely to develop asthma by age seven or maybe less.
The exact mechanism by which phthalates may cause asthma is not yet clear. However, it is thought that the chemicals may trigger an inflammatory response in the airways, leading to the development of asthma symptoms.
Studies have linked phthalate exposure to problems with learning and memory, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Exposure to phthalates can disrupt the normal functioning of these systems, leading to weight gain, fatigue, and mood swings.
There are several studies that reveal the link of phthalates to cardiovascular diseases. These diseases include heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure. Phthalates can damage the lining of the arteries, which can lead to these health problems.
Problems in Endocrine System
Exposure to phthalates has also been associated with problems with the thyroid gland and the endocrine system. The thyroid gland helps to regulate metabolism, and the endocrine system regulates hormones.
Which Phthalates are Banned When Manufacturing Toys?
Phthalates are used to soften plastics and increase their flexibility, but owing to its growing concern of the harmful health effects, The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has banned some of them from toys and other child care articles.
While CPSIA’s permanent prohibition concerning DBP, DEHP, and BBP remains in effect, any children’s toy that contains more than 0.1% concentration of the following phthalates shall be prohibited.
di-(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP)
DEHP is a plasticizer used in many PVC products. It’s what makes PVC soft and flexible. But DEHP is also a hormone disruptor, and it’s been linked to reproductive and developmental problems in humans.
Because of these concerns, the European Union has banned the use of DEHP in toys and childcare products. While The United States has not followed the same suit, it still has restricted the use of DEHP in toys that can be mouthed by children under three.
So, if you’re shopping for toys for young children, look for those that are labeled “phthalate-free.” And if you’re not sure whether a toy contains DEHP or other phthalates, you can contact the manufacturer to ask.
Dibutyl Phthalate (DBP)
As part of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s (CPSC) ongoing efforts to ensure the safety of children’s products, they have banned the use of dibutyl phthalate (DBP) in the manufacture of toys and child care articles.
This chemical is commonly used as a plasticizer, which means it helps to soften and increase the flexibility of plastics. However, recent studies have shown that DBP can be a health hazard, particularly for young children.
Benzyl butyl Phthalate (BBP)
When manufacturing toys, companies are not allowed to use benzyl butyl phthalate (BBP). This is because BBP has been linked to health problems in children, such as developmental delays and behavior problems. Toys that contain BBP can be harmful to children if they chew on them or put them in their mouths.
Diisononyl phthalate (DINP)
DINP is a commonly used phthalate in the manufacturing of toys. However, it has come under scrutiny in recent years due to its potential health risks. It has been linked to a variety of adverse health effects, including endocrine disruption, cancer, and reproductive toxicity.
The European Union has banned the use of DINP in toys that are intended for children under the age of three. There is still some debate over the safety of DINP, but it is generally agreed that it is not safe for young children.
Diisobutyl phthalate (DIBP)
DIBP is widely known to be a hormone disruptor and can potentially cause health problems. This means that it can interfere with the body’s hormone levels, which can lead to various health problems.
Additionally, DIBP has been linked to reproductive problems and birth defects. Finally, DIBP is considered to be an environmental pollutant because it doesn’t break down easily in the environment.
Di-n-pentyl phthalate (DPENP)
Di-n-pentyl phthalate (DPENP) is often used in toys, but it can be harmful to children if it is ingested. DPENP can cause gastrointestinal problems, such as nausea and vomiting. It can also damage the liver and kidneys.
Because of these potential health hazards, it is important to be aware of the disadvantages of using DPENP in toys before purchasing them for your children. Studies have shown that exposure to DPENP can lead to developmental and reproductive problems in animals. Therefore, it’s not recommended for use in children’s toys.
Di-n-hexyl phthalate (DHEXP)
Another phthalate that is prohibited from use in childcare items is none other than di-h-hexyl phthalate. While DHEXP is considered a safe chemical as compared to other members of its family, it can be toxic if ingested. It can also cause skin irritation and allergic reactions in children.
Dicylohexyl phthalate (DCHP)
DCHP is a common plasticizer used in many toys. However, it can be dangerous and produce several negative health-related effects. It is also a known endocrine disruptor, which means that it can interfere with the body’s hormone levels, which can lead to developmental problems in children.
Dicyclohexyl Phthalate can be extremely harmful if ingested and can cause allergies in kids, which is why it should not be used in toys or any other childcare article.
It’s important to be aware of the dangers that phthalates pose to children and to make sure that any toys they play with are free of these chemicals. While phthalates are not completely banned in toys, there are many companies that have committed to phthalate-free production.
Also, the government in several countries is taking strict action to restrict the use of phthalates in childcare articles to protect them from unwanted and dangerous health concerns.