Many of us are actively trying to avoid exposure to unnecessary chemicals. Some chemicals are established allergens which can trigger unpleasant allergic reactions from either single use or repeated exposure, other chemicals have a less direct but still very concerning broader health public health impact, such as phthalates.
Some chemicals which don’t directly cause irritation have not yet been studied extensively, following the ‘if it bleeds, it leads’ approach. We are only now becoming aware of the health impacts of some chemicals which are considered to be safe for human use, but which do have a broader, more systemic effect on health which is often only seen in multi-generational studies. The impacts of some chemicals such as phthalates is now understood to be mainly seen in reproductive or genital defects, which makes the study of the impact of phthalates a complex, inter-generational process.
Phthalates’ effects on humans have not been studied extensively, but they are believed to be an endocrine-disrupting chemical (EDC) that can alter hormonal balance and potentially cause reproductive, developmental and other health issues.
Links have been found to reproductive and genital defects, lower sperm count, disrupted hormones and infertility has been found in numerous studies on animals, the National Research Council stated in a 2008 risk assessment report.
Exposure to phthalates can increase the risk of miscarriage and gestational diabetes in pregnant women, according to two recent Harvard studies.
In infants and children, phthalates have been linked to allergies, male genital deformities, premature puberty, eczema, asthma, lowered IQ andADHD. A 2010 study on New York schoolchildren associated prenatal phthalate exposure with social impairment later in life. Researchers in Korea last year found, through a review of existing studies, a “significant association” between DEHP exposure and neurodevelopmental effects in children.
Other studies have linked phthalates to other effects in adults. A Harvard-led research team concluded in a 2008 study that levels of certain phthalates were linked to sperm DNA damage among men at an infertility clinic. The US Consumer Product Safety Commission said in a 2014 risk report that exposure to certain phthalates may induce adverse effects to the thyroid, liver, kidneys and immune system. Some phthalates – like DEHP, among the most widely-used phthalates – are listed as a probable carcinogen by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
We need much more research on the longer term impact of phthalates to better understand the risk they pose to health.
In the meanwhile, there is enough known about phthalates to suggest that they should be avoided where possible.
At The Shade, our colour has been blended without phthalates (and also without ammonia, PPD and parabens) so that you can enjoy gorgeous salon colour at home, while avoiding unnecessary exposure to phthaltes.