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General chemical structure of phthalates. (R and R' are general placeholders) Phthalates (pronounced / ˈ θ æ ˌ l eɪ t s / , THA -layts [ 1 ] ), or phthalate esters , are esters of phthalic acid and are mainly used as plasticizers (substances added to plastics to increase their flexibility, transparency, durability, and longevity). They are used primarily to soften polyvinyl chloride (PVC). Phthalates are being phased out of many products in the United States , Canada , and European Union over health concerns. Phthalates are used in a large variety of products, from enteric coatings of pharmaceutical pills and nutritional supplements to viscosity control agents, gelling agents, film formers, stabilizers , dispersants , lubricants , binders, emulsifying agents , and suspending agents.
May 27, 2005 Rebecca Goldin But the study itself did not even consider this hypothesis. The media has pulled out the scare tactics again. Armed with a recent study which will be published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives , USA Today claimed that a “common chemical may cause defects in baby boys.” This chemical substance is phthalates, found in an assortment of products, from cosmetics to fragrance to plastics. And the alleged defects are smaller genitals, improperly descended testicles, and (down the road) infertility.