Phthalates have been used as plasticisers in many plastics since the 1930's, with a quarter of the total plasticiser ever produced being diethylhexylphthalate (DEHP). In the UK they are no longer used in the manufacture of cling film or most other food contact plastics.
These compounds are known to be endocrine disruptors, and can cause cancerous tumours, birth defects and other developmental disorders.
The ink used to print on plastic, board and foil-packed products frequently contains phthalates, as do some of the adhesives used in packaging.
Additionally they are found in products such as baby milk formula, cheese, margarine and potato crisps also in vinyl flooring, emulsion paint and PVC baby toys