Why you should be avoiding phosphates and phthalates

If you are trying to live a greener lifestyle, it’s likely that you’ve heard these two things before. Both are ingredients to avoid when purchasing your health, beauty and cleaning products. You can stop reading here if you get upset easily, but if you are brave and want to know WHY I’m telling you to avoid these two things, read on.


Phosphates are added to dish washing and laundry detergents to make them more effective. Unfortunately, effective for us means detrimental for the environment. Phosphates are a powerful fertilizer and when they go down your drain and into the water system, the algae eats it up pronto. They reproduce and then die off. Afterwards, microorganism eat the dead algae and reproduce.

a red tide

a red tide (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So, what’s the problem? These microorganisms reproduce in huge quantities and use up all the oxygen in the water, eventually causing the body of water to dry up. The algae can also become so rampant that they produce too many natural toxins themselves. These HABs, or harmful algal blooms, are what causes what we often hear in the media as ‘red tides’. Not only can red tides have a negative impact on the environment, many humans can become ill if exposed and there can also be severe economical impacts on the fishing industry. As we try to feed the excess of human life on the planet, loss of one of our major food sources is not heading in the right direction. Imagine if fish were removed from our diets? The strain that would be placed on the other industries would be catastrophic.


Scary stat: “About 1 billion pounds of phthalates are produced per year and sold worldwide.” – The Green Beauty Guide by Julie Gabriel

Why so much? Phthalates are in EVERYTHING. So, basically it is impossible  to cut them out of your life completely. Even the bubble you’d have to live in would likely have phthalates. They are in everything from furniture to nail polishes to sex toys. That new car smell is the phthalates being released into the air that you breathe. Another reason not to leave your pet in the car on a hot day. Even scarier is that if you were to be tested right now, your urine would likely have traces of the metabolites of multiple phthalates. Ick! They have even found traces of phthalates in jelly fish in Antartica. I doubt it came from the penguins, so it’s very widespread.

So what’s the big deal? Phthalates are known reproductive toxins. Some different agencies argue that in small amounts, phthalates don’t cause any damage. But, as you’ve just read, they are everywhere so that’s really a moot point. Phthalates are a xenoestrogen. That means that they are a man made substance that acts like estrogen in your body, whether you are male or female. Several studies have shown phthalates to be a contributing factor to early puberty in girls. (Colon et all, 2000) Other studies have linked them to under-developed testicles in baby boys. This can lead to numerous problems down the road like hormonal imbalance and sexual dysfunction. Although the European Union has banned two different types of phthalates, that barely scratches the surface of possible phthalate use, some of which are worse than the ones that were banned.

Here’s a short list of all the different abbreviations that are hiding phthalates in your products:

ATBC – o-acetyl tributyl citrate

BEP – Butyl A-ethyhexyl phthalate

BBP – Butyl benzyl phthalate

DBGP – Di-butylglycol phthalate

DBP – di(n-butyl) phthalate

DCHP – Dicyclohexyl phthalate

You get the idea, here are the rest in abbreviation form only…


Another word that you should always be suspicious of in your ingredient list is ‘fragrance’. That one little word can hide numerous evils.

It is so scary to know that there are things that are known to be harmful in our products, but the more you know, the more you can avoid them.

Have you been trying to avoid phthalates or any other type of toxins? If not, will you now start using this information?


About msjenniferwalker

I'm a Jenn of all trades, as long as they are creative and fulfilling. I'm an actress, writer, photographer and all around social person. I love to learn, travel, meet new people and have new experiences.

Posted on July 23, 2012, in Information and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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