Phthalates pose a great danger to children, particularly while still in the womb, and baby boys born to mothers with high levels of phthalates in their systems have a 10-times greater chance of suffering reproductive damage. With over one billion pounds of phthalates produced each year in popular industrial compounds, plastic softeners, hairsprays, perfumes, cosmetics, toys, shower curtains, wood finishers, lubricants, certain medical devices and more, phthalates exposure comes in many shapes and sizes.Animal studies shown the chemicals used in phthalates inflict much damage, including reproductive and developmental harm, organ damage, immune suppression, endocrine disruption and cancer. The chemicals are ever-present in our environment and the exact dangers of long-term exposure are relatively unknown.Small doses may cause huge problems, particularly in developing infants. Studies published in environmental health publications report that higher levels of phthalates exists in humans than previously thought with exposure coming from ingestion, inhalation, direct injection, and skin contact. Most concerning are these chemicals’ effects on reproductive health.Research found that pregnant women exposed to common levels of phthalates might have baby boys with smaller genitals and incomplete testicular descent. Other research found phthalate exposure resulting in sperm damage for adult men.Dr. Ted Schettler, science director of the Science and Environmental Health Network, explains the risks: “The correlation found in this study is extremely troubling and deserves urgent follow up. The last thing you want is DNA damage to sperm, which can lead to infertility and may also be linked to miscarriages, and birth defects, infertility and cancer in offspring … The link with [the phthalate] DEP is also a concern because, until now, DEP has been considered one of the least toxic phthalates when examined in other ways. Since everyone in the general population is exposed to phthalates from a variety of sources, the results of this report, if confirmed and verified, identify a significant risk to public health.”Toys made from soft plastics contain phthalates that contaminate our environment placing small children at risk because they put everything in their mouths and ingest phthalates when they do. Phthalates are so widely used that it may be nearly impossible to eliminate exposure. However, it is important for everyone but particularly important for pregnant women or women of child-bearing age is to avoid using plastic when storing your food and drinks and to read labels avoiding products that contain Dibutyl phthalate (DBP), Diethyl phthalate (DEP) and Butylbenzyl phthalate (BBP).Parents take notice, many of the things that your children treasure including new toys, playgrounds, and even an afternoon of arts and crafts present serious biological dangers. Take precautions that help reduce the risk!