By Soh Ji-young
Large amounts of phthalate, an endocrine disrupter considered harmful to health, were
found in popular cosmetics circulating in the market, according to findings released by
an environment research institute yesterday.
The Citizens’ Institute for Environmental Studies(the affiliated organization of Friends
ot the Earth Korea) conducted tests in February on the phthalate levels of 14 local and
10 imported cosmetic products sold in Seoul.
All of the products were found to contain the substance in varying degrees, the group
The products in question included perfumes, hair spray and mousse products, as well as
hair dye and nail care products widely used by the public.
Commonly added to plastics to increase their flexibility, phthalate is mainly used in
products made from polyvinyl chloride and is also used in cosmetics, for instance, as a
solvent for perfumes.
As it is known to damage the liver and kidney and affect reproduction, many countries
have prohibited its use in toys and other products used by children.
The institute said 23 of the products tested contained two types of phthalate, while 12
had three types, and two contained four types of phthalate.
This is the first time that phthalate was confirmed to be contained in domestically sold
cosmetic products. Last year, studies by European environmental groups found 80 percent
of cosmetic products sold in Sweden and England contained the substance.
These products such include popular perfumes as Christian Dior’s Poison, Chanel No. 5,
Lancome’s Tresor, Calvin Kline’s Eternity and Tommy Hilfiger’s Tommy Girl.
The institute urged the government to draw up environmental standards regulating use of
phthalate in cosmetics.