It all started back in 2008 when Congress was alerted of studies which indicated that high levels of phthalates were found in baby urine. This was connected to parents using baby shampoo, powder, oil or lotion on a frequent basis. Since these were chemicals found in products especially targeted towards babies, the scientific community took note.

The EPA added eight phthalates to their “Chemicals of Concern” list, which meant they were promising to keep and eye on Phthalates, urging stringent limitations and leaving the door open in the future for eventual banning.

With all of this, additional studies were undertaken by Shanna Swan, PhD, an epidemiologist at the University of Rochester Medical Center. Her interest was focused on the effect of phthalates on pregnant women and the resulting effects on their male children. Several studies — both in animals and humans — have found that phthalates might have some effects on hormones.

So, while it is important to check ingredient labels when you shop, it is often difficult to know for certain if phthalates are actually in a product, because manufacturers are not required to this that specific chemical found in some fragrances. Phthalates actually work as softeners in personal care products including making plastic toys less hard and more flexible to reduce unintentional injury.

When shopping, look for labels that specifically say “no phthalates” or “phthalate-free.” Some do, some don’t, so the responsibility is still falling on the consumer to fully explore the products.

We use only “Phthalate Free” fragrance oils in all our products and verify this by checking the MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet), but more importantly the Certificate of Analysis. Over a year ago, we went through every one of our fragrance oils, one by one and found only two which had 0.10% phthalate content. We changed suppliers and made certain that ingredient was not present in our new oils. We continue to check our inventory to be sure we remain phthalate free.

As the public brings pressure to bear, phthalate free will become more the norm. But until then, be a wary consumer.

Next month, we will discuss Parabens and Formaldehydes in personal care products!