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Ask EWG: Are phthalates safe for babies?

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Question: I'm concerned about my 8-month-old daughter coming into contact with phthalates. Should I throw out any plastic toys, or are there some companies that don't use phthalates? Toy companies I've contacted have told me phthalates are harmless. Is this true?

Answer: Phthalates (pronounced tha-lates) are used in soft plastic teethers and toys, and should be avoided to protect a baby's health. These chemicals are considered a hazardous waste and regulated as pollutants in air and water, but are essentially unregulated in children's toys, cosmetics, and many other consumer products. Although some types of phthalates have been shown to be toxic to developmental, reproductive, and other organ systems and phased out by companies due to health concerns, alarmingly they are still are used for teethers and other toys. Avoid all soft plastic teethers and food containers until manufacturers prove they are safe. Harder plastic toys are probably phthalate-free, but wooden teethers/toys are the best alternative.

To learn more about phthalate-related health risks, click here. Also check out this great article on phthalates in baby toys, and these safe baby toy recommendations.