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10 Harmful Chemicals That Make A Sex Toy Toxic

December 10, 2017 9 min read

10 Harmful Chemicals That Make A Sex Toy Toxic

In a span of a decade, the sex toy industry has come a long way. Most of the products tested appeared free of harmful toxins which sits far from the results of the first lab tests conducted by the Danish Environmental Protection Agency and other organizations between 2005 and 2007. Although a recent Swedish study revealed that the use of hazardous materials in sex toys decline continuously, everyone needs to know more about which chemicals to look out for and stay away from.

Many sex toy manufacturers control and supervise their operations by making sure harmful chemicals aren’t used in their products. Their own researchers and engineers conduct a continuous study of different materials to guarantee safety and stay on top of the competition. So even if the government does not regulate sex toys, anyone can rely on the standards of highly-reputable brands or companies.

There are several manufacturers who continue to ignore their potentially hazardous production and consumers shouldn’t assume they’re 100% safe. Everyone needs to further expand their familiarity to both body-safe and dangerous chemicals used for that worry-free and non-toxic joy ride!

Always research the porosity and material composition of the product. This will help identify if the item is safe or suitable for you. Also check for the background of the company and read some customer reviews.

We’ve put together a list of chemicals to look out for and we understand that they may appear technical or scientific. However, you need to gain awareness and knowledge about these toxins to prevent them from interfering and ruining your private need for exploration. Don’t worry, we’ll try to keep the list as simple and as articulated as we can.

Eliminate the risk of getting exposed to non-body safe materials by avoiding these harmful chemicals that make a sex toy toxic or unpleasant to use.

#1 - Phthalate

Dubbed as a “human carcinogen”, phthalates rank first in many lists of most toxic materials that may end up in a sex toy. Manufacturers mainly used phthalates in softening PVC, rubber, and different kinds of plastics. As this dangerous chemical comes in a variety of things, many people may unknowingly expose themselves to some of these items.

Almost anything that reeks the smell of plastic contains phthalates. Some daily household items may even include phone cases, plastic bottles, shower curtains, kitchen ware, accessories, car dashboards, the list could go on forever. You may not completely avoid them, but at least you know that you should not ingest these items or let them go anywhere near your food or body.

High doses of phthalates may cause cancer. Alarmingly, it will also cause serious health problems if ingested in low amounts. Internal use and too much exposure may also cause infant genital development problems and poor sperm production for men. Apart from reproductive system problems, phthalates may also damage many body organs such as kidneys, lungs, liver, and the digestive tract.

Our Government has taken initiative and banned the use of phthalates in kid and infant toys however, the authorities have not passed any laws that would regulate the production of sex toys. Due to this, it’s up to consumers to know how they can pick a body-safe material out of a group of toxic or unsafe adult toys.



#2 - Latex

Latex does not really emit toxic effects in its actual form. However, it may serve as good as toxins to those allergic to it. In addition, not everyone knows their sensitivity to this common allergen until they get exposed.

According to statistics, natural rubber or latex affects six to ten percent of the general population. Studies show that individuals with tendency to suffer from asthma, eczema, and some food allergies may develop latex allergy reactions. Also, workers in rubber or latex manufacturing industry and those people who went through surgical operations may also find themselves allergic to latex.

#3 - Bisphenol A (BPA)

Bisphenol A (BPA), a common plastic ingredient, serves different industries for more than 400 years now. You can find it in medical devices, food packaging, water bottles, dental sealants, compact discs, and many more. Previously, the US Food and Drug Administration declared BPA as a safe material. But in 2010, the department altered their position and expressed concerns about its potential effects.

The below includes possible effects of BPA in your body:

  • Reduced testosterone levels
  • Disrupted hormones
  • Disrupted fetal development
  • Brain and behavior problems
  • Cancer
  • Reduced androgen levels
  • Heart problems
  • Diabetes and obesity

Shocking Fact: More than ninety percent of people have already consumed BPA.

Bisphenol A in sex toys will increase your risk to the different effects of BPA in the body. The impact may not manifest immediately but they will definitely cause health problems if you continue to expose yourself to this toxin. Always read packaging and make sure materials used to make the product are listed and safe to use long term.

#4 - Melamine

Manufacturers use melamine in production of melamine resin, a durable thermosetting plastic, and a polymeric cleanser. It also serves as a cheap alternative for the protein nutrient in plant fertilizers.

The Food and Drug Administration approved melamine for manufacturing purposes, not for human consumption. But because users take sex toys into their bodies orally, anally or apply it to their genitals, manufacturers should not use melamine in the production of vibrators, fleshlights, stimulators and other items.

The toxicity of melamine reaches an alarming level. But even so, some manufacturers in China who got raided by authorities after causing some health problems included melamine to disguise protein in milk formulas and even in foods. Considering this, it appears safe to assume that some companies in China still use this toxic substance in the production of sex toys.

Researchers from India found that using a common weed parthenium with silver nitrate will reveal if a milk product contains melamine through a change of color. However, there is no consumer technology developed to detect melamine in sex toys. It is recommended to check the packaging labels or completely avoid cheap products from China without labels or English translation.

Melamine intake can cause:

  • Kidney failure
  • Lesser or no urine at all
  • High blood pressure
  • Irritability
  • Renal damage

#5 - Glycerin

Glycerin, a colorless, hygroscopic, and sweet-tasting liquid, often comes along with condoms and lubes. Also, glycerin may exist in some self-lubricating sex toys and this raises some concerns.

Although safe in small amounts, glycerin can cause problems in uncontrolled doses. It may change the natural process of the vagina when it comes to absorbing water. Glycerin can also dry out the vagina causing irritation, cause yeast infections and increase risk of acquiring STIs. Moreover, vegans and vegetarians wouldn’t like this as it possess animal fats.

Glycerin appears in many lubes. To completely avoid glycerin, check the packaging label to see the ingredients of the lube and condom. You may purchase all natural or vegan-friendly products which are also cruelty-free.

#6 - Parabens

Parabens are another harmful chemical present in lubes, candles and lotions. Companies use them to prolong the shelf life of liquid items such as lubricants and even cosmetics. It also controls the products’ density, viscosity, and liquid texture.

Together with other petrochemicals, this substance messes up your endocrine. Other effects include:

  • Interrupts natural menstrual cycle in women
  • Affects female fertility
  • Reduces the production of semen in men
  • Upsets the activity of the thyroid glands
  • Encourages the growth of cancer cells

#7 - Cadmium

Certain sex toys may include heavy metals and harmful elements such as cadmium. It may also come out of phthalates during offgassing together with lead. In 2005, cadmium-tainted items were found on yellow sex toys made of PVC, ABS, and other plastics. As it turned out, manufacturers use cadmium as a plastic softener and for yellow pigmentation.

According Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), cadmium causes cancer and damages the renal, cardiovascular, neurological, gastrointestinal, respiratory, and reproductive systems.

Does this mean you need to avoid sex toys with a yellow color? The simple answer to this is NO as it all depends on the manufacturer, another reason why consumers should purchase from trusted brands. Also, take note that the test happened in 2005 and the sex toy industry has made improvements in the past decade.

#8 - VOC ingredients

VOC stands for volatile organic compounds. Usually present in paint and adhesives, VOCs cause your sex toys to smell like plastic. Stores normally advise customers to wait 24 hours after removing their items from its package before using your products. If the stench is still present after that period, it may mean that exceeding amounts of VOC may have been used and the product could potentially not be body-safe.

Possible ingredients of VOC include methylene chloride, toluene, and carbon tetrachloride. Although VOC is present in almost all items with varnishing, paint, and coating, look for items without the above chemicals. Some packaging would sometimes print VOC-free labels.

Over exposure and ingestion of these chemicals may result to:

  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Nausea
  • Skin irritation
  • Asthma
  • Eye, nose, throat problems
  • Cancer
  • Heart problems

#9 - Polyacrylamide And Acrylamide

Another chemical used in producing dye, paper and plastics, acrylamide makes another toxic substance that could end up in sex toys. As per experts, acrylamide belongs to the neurotoxin category as it can badly affect the central nervous system through inhalation and oral intake. In large amounts, this toxin may cause the victim to experience drowsiness, hallucinations, numbness, ataxia, mammary tumors, cancer and other peripheral diseases.

As some manufacturers use acrylamide in producing polymer, this chemical may appear in sex toys made of plastic and rubber. On the other hand, polyacrylamide serves as a stabilizer and a binder ingredient. While the concern is minimal, it’s composed of repeating acrylamide molecules known as a carcinogen. Polyacrylamide may be present in lotions, sunscreens, cosmetic products, hair products and lubricants.

Avoid polyacrylamide and acrylamide by checking the labels of the sex toy or lubricant.

#10 - Trimethyltin Chloride, Phenol, Carbon Disulphide & Toluene

The Danish Environmental Protection Agency found these chemicals in 16 toys they tested back in 2005. The chemicals trimethyltin chloride, phenol, carbon disulphide & toluene appear in the list of cancer-causing substances. They secrete toxins that could get inside your body even by just inhaling its unpleasant smell.

Trimethylin Chloride

A highly-toxic material with a stench. This organotin is mainly used in production of PVC plastic. Its harmful effects include eye damage, respiratory problems, seizures, dizziness, cancer, kidney failure and brain damage.


An agent that synthesizes plastics. Phenol causes a corrosive effect to the eyes, nose, skin, and respiratory system. Apart from this, it also serves as a lethal toxin. It becomes lethal (possible death) in humans if you ingest 50 ml or more of this chemical. However, its effect may also depend on your sensitivity.

Liquefied phenol can quickly penetrate through the skin. The absorption through skin works as fast as inhalation making it a very dangerous substance. Continuous lab test indicate a strong decline in the usage of phenol. Always check the label of the product before purchasing to avoid this harmful chemical.


Manufacturers use toluene as a solvent. It may appear as an agent used to create rubber, paint, and polish. This chemical evaporates rapidly and may end up leaking from the sex toy while at use without any process involved. As it exist in paint and just leaks after exposure to air, you may expose yourself to toluene if you used an item immediately after taking it out of the package. Some effects of toluene include dizziness, cognitive impairment, damage to internal organs, and cancer.

Test findings have revealed a great drop in the usage of toluene and other chemicals in this list. Also, the presence of these chemicals may appear obvious through their odor. If you avoid sex toys with a bad smell of paint, you may have avoided a lot of bad chemicals including toluene.

Carbon Disulphide

Carbon disulphide or carbon disulfide comes is used by many industrial processes such as rubber production, fumigation, synthesization of many chemical compounds. It’s yellowish in color and emits an extremely unpleasant smell. The toxic gets released upon usage of the sex toy. Acute exposure to this chemical may result to confusion, headache, coma and sometimes, death.

According to 2005 lab tests, carbon disulfide appeared as one of the dangerous toxins found in sex toys, particularly those made of rubber. Recent studies show a sharp decline in carbon disulfide uses. To steer clear of carbon disulfide, keep away from rubber sex toys especially those discharging bad odor.

You Don’t Need To Worry That Much

The most recent lab tests indicate a huge decline of the above chemicals in sex toys. Different organizations continuously conduct these initiatives to know where the sex toy industry is heading too. To our surprise, it has come a very long way and everyone’s looking forward to a more worry-free shopping and sexual experience.

While we cannot conclude that we are 100% safe from the toxins mentioned here, consumer awareness makes for one of the most important cases. Moreover, it is always best to research the sex toy you’re interested in buying and check the background of the brand or manufacturer selling it. Don’t be afraid to even go out of your way to ask specific questions from the manufacturer, normally the most reliable ones will reply without hesitation.

You may also consider avoiding or taking extra care of porous materials such as those made of rubber, PVC and jelly, as they hold higher chances of containing phthalates and other harmful toxins. On top of that, these porous sex toys tend to trap more bacteria and germs exposing you to more types of infection.

To further increase our security when it comes to sex toys, we need the government’s support. Lend assistance to independent organizations such as Swedish Chemicals Agency, Tantus Inc., Dildology.org and Badvibes.org to help regulate sex toys for the health benefits of consumers. Rally behind any movements demanding the government to pass laws that will regulate the production of these materials. Moreover, you can encourage and educate as much people as you can through blogging, social media posts, and sharing articles about sexual positivity.