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Recent Phthalates Research Cause For Concern Among Parents

Jun 9, 2008
A major study by researchers at the University of Washington and Seattle Children's Hospital Research Institute found that babies recently treated with infant personal care products such as lotion, shampoo and powder were more likely to have man made chemicals called phthalates in their urine than other babies.

This is cause for concern because phthalate exposure in early childhood has been associated with altered hormone concentrations as well as increased allergies and eczema.

Animal-based studies of phthalates have found that the synthetic chemicals can harm reproductive system development, and studies in humans have found that prenatal exposure or exposure through breast milk can alter hormone concentrations.

The study's lead author, Sheela Sathyanarayana, an acting assistant professor of pediatrics, said, "We found that infant exposure to phthalates is widespread, and that exposure to personal care products applied onto the skin may be an important source."

Babies may be more at risk because their reproductive, endocrine and immune systems are still developing.

Phthalates are added to a number of common consumer products. They are primarily used to soften plastics. But they are also commonly found in cosmetics and scented products such as perfumes, soaps, lotions and shampoos;even when products are labeled as natural skincare products.

Even though phthalates are not currently regulated in the United States, there are still some things that concerned parents can do when choosing natural skincare products.

Buy European

In 2004, the European Union banned the use of all phthalates in toys and products intend for children under the age of three. For consumers, this means choosing BDIH certified natural skincare products manufactured in European countries, as they are safe for use on infants and children. Major German brands such as Lavera, Weleda and Dr. Hauschka have the BDIH Seal of Approval.

Germany's BDIH has strict guidelines for Certified Natural Cosmetics, and serves as an "Association for Safety" in the health care and personal care industries. BDIH is a member of both the European Health Product Manufacturers Association (EHPM) and the German Federation of Food Law and Food Science (BLL).

Buy Organic

In order to use the term "organic" on product labels, natural skincare companies have to adhere to strict rules and regulations. This includes restrictions on synthetic chemicals like phthalates. Choosing to use organic skincare products, therefore, can greatly reduce exposure to these chemicals

Look For "Phthalate Free"

Phthalates are typically not listed on labels because the chemicals are hiding in the "fragrance" and companies are not required to list fragrance ingredients on labels. Even natural skincare products labeled "fragrance free" can have masking fragrances that contain phthalates.

Consumers concern over phthalates has caused many natural skincare companies to eliminate them from their product lines. Seeking out products advertised as "phthalate free" is one way to avoid these potentially harmful chemicals.

Check Packaging

Even when much thought is taken to removing phthalates from the natural skincare lotions and cosmetics, the chemicals can still be leeched from the containers in which they are stored. Phthalates are commonly used to soften plastic bottles. When trying to avoid exposure to phthalates, it is essential to choose skincare products in specially lined bottles, glass or hard plastic.

Some European manufacturers take out any risk top their plastic tubes by having them manufactured with an impervious liner. It's estimated that certain companies spend about a dollar a tube on this precaution alone.
About the Author
Author is a freelance copywriter. For more information on Natural
, visit http://www.lavera.com.
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