Phthalates are chemicals used to make plastic toys, as well as soothers and other products, soft and flexible. Often these products end up in the mouths of infants, who may suck or chew on them for prolonged periods. Phthalates, which may enter the bloodstream via saliva in these infants, have been linked to reproductive and developmental toxicities in animals.
In 1998, Canadian industry voluntarily removed the two main phthalates used in teethers and pacifiers, but as most of these products are manufactured off-shore, the impact has not been significant. As well, there are many other products that are likely to be mouthed by infants, bath toys (e.g., rubber ducks), squeeze and inflatable ones, which may contain phthalates.