No, the sky is not falling. But we do live in a world where we're exposed to enough potential toxins that it's worthwhile to keep up to date on the hidden health risks.
In fact, exposures to environmental toxins have now been given a special name, the exposome, rivaling our genome and microbiome for importance. Over the years, DDT, dioxins, and recently BPA have captured headlines.
This year, though, it's all about phthalates—a word almost impossible to spell and pronounce but definitely worthy of knowing because of their powerful ability to disrupt our endocrine systems.
Before jumping to the new scientific reports on these chemical toxins, it's important to understand a little background. There are different types of phthalates, but the ones most discussed are an alphabet soup of DBP, DEP, DEHP, and DMP. They are typically used in plastic food and beverage containers, as well as in food production, perfumes, insect repellents, hair sprays, nail polish, deodorants, fragrances, air fresheners and laundry detergents, carpet, vinyl floors, shower curtains, raincoats, plastic toys, plastic car parts, and hospital IV tubing and bags. Meats, cheeses, and other dairy products can also have high levels of phthalates.
In fact, in random urine samples, over 90 percent of the American public had measurable amounts of some phthalates. In other words, you can run but you cannot hide.
Here are the recent scientific findings about phthalates that you should know about: