Ana María Aguirre A.
Master in Public Communication of Science
What happens with this term "fragrance" or "perfume" is that it has been used to hide and conceal a very toxic chemical: phthalates.
Phthalates are toxic chemicals that are generally added to plastic to give it flexibility (which is why certain plastic packaging is also dangerous, both for what we ingest and for the products we use on our skin).
But these substances are not only present in plastics but also in some personal care products such as perfume, nail polish, etc.
How does it affect us?
Phthalates alter the hormonal system, can cause dermatitis, eczema, allergies, and even increase the risk of cancer. They are also related to alterations in the endocrine system, infertility, thyroid, obesity, among others.
What do the control authorities say about them?
In September 2004, the European Union banned the presence of three phthalates (those with the highest risk) in toys and baby products:
- Diethyl Hexyl Phthalate (DEHP)
- Dibutyl Phthalate (DBT)
- Benzyl Buthyl Phthalate (BBP)
These substances have also been eliminated from cosmetics in Europe (Regulation 1223/2009), but phthalates such as Dimethyl phthalate (DMP) or Diethyl phthalate (DEP) are still authorized. They can be found in gels, shampoos, soaps, lotions, cosmetics, perfumes, air fresheners.
However, in Ecuador there are no regulations in this regard, and especially plastic products, full of very harmful phthalates, especially for pregnant women, babies and children, continue to be produced and entered into the country.
How to avoid them?
- Preferably use glass, aluminum or ceramic containers for food and drinks.
- Avoid plastic and foam containers, especially if they are going to be subjected to high or low temperatures.
- Read the labels of cosmetic, hygiene and personal care products that do not contain the mentioned chemicals, and preferably avoid those that contain "fragrance" or "perfume" since many are masked there.
- If any plastic is used, make sure it is free of DBT, BBP, DEHP. In general, those with the greatest flexibility will be those that contain the most phthalates.
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