Phthalates, or more precisely, phthalate esters are derived from phthalic acid. They are used as plasticisers. Plasticisers are added to plastics to alter the properties of the plastic, making more transparent, flexible, etc).

Most (luckily) are harmless but some are harmful to health and have been banned form children’s toys.

By User:Bryan Derksen (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

As the plasticiser is only mixed into the plastic, ie, it is not chemically bonded, it is easy for it to leach out. Plasticisers released into the environment will biodegrade but it is inevitable that some end up in our bodies – for example, through fatty food that has been wrapped in clingfilm or by chewing pencil erasers. Phalates are everywhere!

It is believed (but not proven) that phthaltes act as endocrine disruptor’s (much like yesterdays posting on BPA). Links have also been made with obesity and cancer.

For more information, please read the article at:

Tomorrow, we will look at BFRs or Brominated Flame Retardants