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Avoid vinyl products. Pillow and mattress protectors are especially problematic because of their relatively high concentration of phthalates.
Toss out plastic toys that contain phthalates. Toys manufactured before a ban took effect in February 2009 contained these harmful plastic softeners.
In their Household Products Study, Silent Spring Institute researchers found that vinyl pillow protectors had a 14-percent concentration of DEHP. At common exposure levels, this phthalate affects male reproductive development, sperm quality, and male hormones.
The relatively high concentration of DEHP in vinyl pillow protectors is especially worrisome in that phthalates may increase respiratory symptoms—and the protectors tend to be used to reduce exposure to the dust mites that trigger asthma.