Phthalates: The Toxic Side Dish

You may have never heard of phthalates, but these odorless and colorless chemicals lurk in countless products we use every day. From plastics to personal care items and even pharmaceuticals, phthalates are everywhere, and they pose a significant risk to our health.

As endocrine disruptors, phthalates have been linked to hormonal changes and a wide range of potential toxic side effects in both children and adults. We are exposed to these hazardous substances through ingestion, inhalation, skin absorption, and even intravenous injection. But just how much exposure is considered safe? The truth is, we do not have clear answers yet!

A growing body of scientific evidence over the last decade has revealed countless potential toxic side effects of phthalate exposure in humans. Despite laws passed in the US, EU, and China to limit phthalate use, these regulations are weak, and the threat remains. We must ask ourselves: how much phthalate exposure do we experience simply by existing in our homes and residential spaces? And how can we quantify this exposure to create a safer environment for ourselves?

In the long run, the challenge for chemical, material and mechanical engineers is to synthesize safer alternatives and innovate alternative manufacturing methods and materials to mitigate, if not eliminate, the use of phthalates.

For more information on this book and availability, please contact the CECD Assistant Director, Dylan Hazelwood, at