In the book, Slow Death by Rubber Duck Rick Smith turns himself into a human science experiment. He lathers himself with shampoos and shaving creams, all in the sweetly-scented spirit of chemical exposure. To phthalates, that is. A type of chemical commonly found in cosmetics as well as plastic toys and PVC. After three days, the amount of phthalate byproducts in Smith's blood spikes. One of the by-products has notably been linked to male reproductive problems.
Reproductive problems are not the only issue phthalates have been linked to. They have also been variously associated with DNA damage, birth defects and altered pregnancy outcomes.
The issues associated with phthalates (pronouced tha-layts) are not new and have lead many countries to ban their use in toys. How hazardous the quantities are in cosmetics however, remains hotly debated.
But, new studies suggest that phthalates from 'personal-care' product-use relate to diabetes prevalence, as well as to insulin resistance.