Phthalates. What are they? Where are they found? How do they pertain to adult "novelty" toys? (None of us own any of those, we're all good girls and boys, right? *shifty eyes*)
(Note: This post contains tasteful discussion of adult products and how to keep yourself safe from chemicals while still having fun-times. You have been warned!)
Phthalates are petroleum-derived chemicals in many of our everyday-use products. They're typically used as plastic softeners (think rubber ducks, plastic balls, etc) among other things, and like it or not are found in countless items in our homes. These chemicals, like most of our recently-discovered manmade chemicals, haven't been extensively tested for harmful effects on humans, though their current trials on animals aren't proving too helpful to their case. (Liver damage, reproductive organ damage, funky hormones and more.)
So how can you tell if a product you buy has phthalates? As far as adult novelty toys are concerned, if you open the packaging and it smells like "plastic" or has a perfume scent it probably has some phthalates. Even without opening packages you can sometimes smell the strong plasticky-odor coming from within, so beware! Most adult toys marked as jelly, rubber, or gel will have some phthalates, as well as any clear or translucent toys (except glass.) If you suspect that your favorite bedroom toy (or any toy, for that matter) has phthalates and you're worried about the possible chemical-leeching that may happen, there are solutions! First, washing your toys just before using can wash away some chemical residue that may have leeched out between uses. That sounds so wrong, I know... Next, as a barrier simply slip a condom over your toy before using it. Talk about safe sex!
And I've saved the worst for last...did you know that companies aren't required to substantiate or back-up any claims made on toys labeled "for novelty use?" Wait...what? So any company can claim it's products are "non-toxic" or made of "silicone" without any scientific research behind it? Yikes! Important to know when purchasing a new toy: medical-grade silicone is NEVER transparent, it's always opaque (and 100% pore-free, easiest to sanitize and clean!) Jelly toys are very porous and can retain bacteria even after being washed several times, so not only is mislabeling misleading but it can also be dangerous.
Thankfully, with more and more ethical adult novelty companies emerging comes more options! We're not limited to whatever the local "dirty movie" store down the street has in stock anymore, especially when EdenFantasys is right at your fingertips. They offer many options for non-phthalate toys, including Vixen and Tantus toys made of the aforementioned medical grade silicone. Also an option are Phallix's glass toys, which create fun sensations of their own. Keep all these things in mind when purchasing a new toy, and most importantly, remember to pick out something you know that you'll use and have fun with! After all, that's what life's about, right?