Statement by Linda Loretz, PhD, Chief Toxicologist Personal Care Products Council on “Environmental Phthalate Exposure and Preterm Birth”

“A recent study published in JAMA Pediatrics does not show a link between the use of phthalates in personal care products and preterm birth.  In the study, urinary concentrations of several phthalates and their metabolites were measured in pregnant women, and the association between levels of the phthalates and preterm birth was evaluated.  The source of exposure to the different phthalates was not determined. It is important to note, that not all phthalates are the same and each has its own characteristics and safety profile.

“Diethyl phthalate, also known as DEP, is the only phthalate with significant use in personal care products.  DEP has a long and safe history of use. The JAMA study found no association between DEP and preterm birth.

“DEP has been reviewed by other scientific authorities including the Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety (SCCS) in the European Union and the Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) Expert Panel in the U.S, and found to be safe for use in cosmetics and personal care products.  DEP is allowed for use throughout the world and has been studied extensively for decades.

“The authors of the JAMA paper report a correlation between some of the other phthalates that were measured and preterm birth but the results do not show causation.  It is important to look at the entire scientific body of evidence when evaluating an ingredient’s safety profile, not data from just one study. Based on the extensive safety data developed for these phthalates, there is no evidence to suggest they could cause premature birth even at levels much higher than the levels reported in the study.  

“Personal care products remain one of the safest product categories regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).  Federal law mandates that all cosmetic manufacturers substantiate the safety of their products and the ingredients used in them before they are marketed to the public.  The safety and health of consumers of all ages who use and enjoy our products remain the highest priority for our industry. Consumers can continue to use the personal care products they have trusted and relied on for years and be confident in their safety.”