How to Limit Your Exposure to Phthalates

Various small measures can reduce your phthalate load.

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Various small measures can reduce your phthalate load.

Eat less processed food. Food, especially when fatty, is a major source of phthalate exposure, and processing can up the concentration. One study, for example, showed that prepared lunches had high levels of phthalates because food workers wore plastic gloves during prep.

Ventilate. Studies show indoor air tends to have higher loads than outdoor, most likely because countless household items and building materials contain phthalates that can end up in dust and air. Also, try to keep phthalate-containing materials, such as vinyl tiles and imitation leather furniture, out of kids' rooms.

Shop wisely. Many companies have introduced phthalate-free toys and baby products. You can find updated product reviews at websites like

Check your cosmetics. Products such as nail polish, hair spray, and deodorant can contain phthalates. The ingredients list may identify them—or mention only "fragrance," which may contain them.