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10 Dangerous Everyday Things in Your Home

Cosmetic Phthalates
The FDA is testing whether phthalates in lotions are harmful to babies.
The FDA is testing whether phthalates in lotions are harmful to babies.
Julia Smith/Getty Images

­Forget about bat poop in mascara. There's another icky ingredient that could be floating around in your favorite beauty products. Phthalates, also called plasticizers, go into many products dotted around your bathroom and vanity, including hair spray, shampoos, fragrances, deodorants and even your rubber ducky. Along with increasing the durability and flexibility of plastics, phthalates also bind the color and fragrance in cosmetic products.

Why worry about this chemical additive? They may demand a higher price for beauty than you wish to pay. Like BPA mentioned earlier, these hormone-like chemicals are linked to reproductive and developmental problems in animals. Because of these findings, California and Washington state have banned the use of phthalates in toys for younger children [source: Underwood]. Nationwide manufacturers no longer use them in baby pacifiers, rattles or teething rings [source: CDC].

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention plans to complete more research on the effects of phthalates before judging its safety in consumer products. However, the agency recognizes a potential for lowered sperm count in boys and premature breast development in girls, among other things [source: CDC]. As for cosmetic products, the Food and Drug Administration maintains that levels in products are safe for adults but also is studying the potential effects in infants and children [source: FDA].