Phthalates (PAEs) as product modifiers are widely used in food packaging, building boards, medical devices and other products. Beacuse PAEs and plastic molecules are difficult to form a strong covalent bond, PAEs would continuously leak to the fat-soluble environment, and be bioaccumulated and show endocrine disrupting effect by the matrix contact and food web transfer. In order to systematically understand the ecological behavior and toxicological effects of PAEs, the bioaccumulation and metabolic pathways of PAEs were introduced in this paper based on the physical and chemical properties of PAEs and their pollution in the atmosphere, water and soil. The environmental degradation mechanism of PAEs was also demonstrated from three aspects: hydrolysis, photolysis and biodegradation. Furthermore, based on laboratory reports and social surveys, the environmental hormones effect toxicology of PAEs, carcinogenic, teratogenic, and mutagenic toxicology, enzymes and hormone toxicology were outlined and deeply discussed, and the ideas and suggestions about the relevant research focus were promoted, which could provide a theoretical reference for effectively reducing the risk of phthalate in the environment and in the organism. Against deficiencies on the toxicological analysis, degradation pathway and environmental exposure research at present, the paper finally suggested further research on the toxicity accumulation and amplification of the complex food chain, development of biological control and reduction technology, and investigation of the environmental exposure of PAEs in future, in order to determine a comprehensive and reasonable limit of environmental standards.