Chemicals used to soften plastics and make them more flexible (they are also known as plasticizers). These substances do not bound to plastics, therefore they are continuously released into the air, foods or liquids. Certain phthalates are used as dissolving agents for other materials.
Phthalates are widely known as endocrine disruptors: they mimic hormones, interfering with their function; they have been incriminated as being responsible for pregnancy losses, breast cancer and other health problems.
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