Phthalates are a group of aromatic chemicals containing a phenyl ring with two attached and extended acetate groups. They are typically colorless liquids used to make plastics more flexible and resilient, and are often referred to as plasticizers. Because they are not a part of the chain of chemicals (polymers) that makes up plastics, they can be released fairly easily from these products. These plastics are found in products such as toothbrushes, automobile parts, tools, toys, and food packaging. Some are also used in cosmetics, insecticides, and aspirin.

Page last reviewed: August 14, 2008