Phthalates (pronounced thal-ates) are plasticizers used to soften PVC vinyls. If vinyls do not have any softeners, they are basically very hard PVC plastic. They are used in cosmetics, fragrances (perfume) air fresheners, scented candles, ink and many other products including sex toys. Phthalate molecules are not chemically bound to the plastics they soften, and as such, phthalates can "break free" from plastic fairly easily, causing rubber and jelly toys to deteriorate over time. Some studies have reported that phthalates may mimic the female hormone estrogen.
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