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Phthalates are a family of man-made chemical compounds developed in the last century to be used in the manufacture of plastics, solvents, and personal care products. They are colorless, odorless, oily liquids that do not evaporate easily and do not chemically bind to the material they are added to.
Ingestion, inhalation, skin absorption, and intravenous injection are all potential pathways of exposure. The ever-present use of phthalates as an additive to PVC (polyvinyl chloride) products to make them flexible and to personal care products to make fragrances last longer in the past 50 years has resulted in widespread general population exposure.
Phthalates are readily absorbed into the human body and are converted quickly to their respective metabolites. Unlike some chemicals, they tend to pass out of the body quickly in urine and feces. Phthalates can interact with each other and increase the exposure effect.