In the wake of news today linking baby powder, lotion and shampoo to higher levels of phthalates in babies' bodies, many parents are looking for answers about avoiding products that contain them.
Phthalates are known as "endocrine disruptors" because they mimic the body's hormones and have, in laboratory animal tests, been shown to cause reproductive and neurological damage. (California will ban the use of phthalates in toys and baby products as of 2009.)
Unfortunately, it's not particularly easy to avoid phthalates.
You'll rarely find the word "phthalates" on a label (except for the occasional "phthalate-free," which is helpful).
Here are three tips for identifying products that have, or are likely to have, phthalates or another compound that has raised similar concerns and is found in similar products, Bisphenol A.
Read the ingredients. According to the organization Pollution in People, you can identify phthalates in some products by their chemical names, or abbreviations:
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