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The detection of phthalates in human biologic fluids remains an important research objective because it provides an important measure of an individual’s exposure to this class of compounds, which have known deleterious health effects. Moreover, the ability to accomplish such detection in fluids that are easy to collect, such as saliva and urine, provides additional practical advantages. Reported herein is the application of cyclodextrin-promoted fluorescence energy transfer and fluorescence modulation to accomplish precisely such detection: the development of sensitive and selective florescence-based detection methods for phthalates in saliva, an easily collectable human biologic fluid. Such saliva-based detection methods occur with high levels of selectivity (100% differentiation) and sensitivity (limits of detection as low as 0.089 µM), and provide significant potential in the development of practical phthalate detection devices.