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Reading Labels to Avoid Phthalates

tips on reading product labels to avoid phthalates

It can be challenging to identify consumer products that contain phthalates because complete labelling is not required on many products. 

PVC (vinyl) Products
Phthalates are frequently used to soften PVC (vinyl) products. If a vinyl product is flexible, it probably contains phthalates unless the label specifically says it does not.

Cosmetics & Personal Care Products
Phthalates are often used in cosmetics and personal care products to carry fragrances. Under current law, they can then simply be labeled “fragrance,” even though they may make up 20% or more of the product. 

On some products, ingredients are listed, but the chemical names or acryonyms can be confusing.  Use the list below to identify phthalates.

Phthalate names

commonly used in

or di-(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate
or Bis (2-ethylhexyl) phthalate

 used as a softener in PVC products, such as IV bags, tubing, and other medical devices

or benzylbutyl phthalate

used in vinyl flooring, car-care products, and personal care products

or di-n-butyl phthalate

used in nail polish and other personal care products

or diethyl phthalate

used in personal care products, such as deodorants, perfume, cologne, aftershave lotion, shampoo, hair gel, hand lotion

or dimethyl phthalate


used in insect repellent, plastics, and solid rocket propellant

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