Phthalates are chemicals which are known endocrine disruptors that are linked to birth defects and reproductive problems, lower sperm count as well as lung, kidney and liver cancers. Phthalates are plasticizers used to soften vinyl plastics and help make fragrances last longer. Any ingredient labeled “fragrance” may contain up to 20% phthalates. Manufacturers use phthalates in hair conditioners to coat the shaft of each hair which allows your hair to retain a "soft" feel. Another hidden source of phthalates are enteric coated vitamins and pharmaceutical pills.
In 1998, the Canadian Government placed a voluntary ban on the use of 6 phthalates in soft vinyl children’s toys based on studies that suggest phthalates are hazardous to the reproductive and developmental health of children. However, they did not place a ban on the use of these same phthalates in personal care products. Studies also link phthalates to liver and kidney failure in young children.