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Phthalates are chemicals used to make plastics flexible and they have been implicated in causing premature breast development in girls, which is a condition called thelarche. There has been an epidemic of thelarche on the island of Puerto Rico for the last two decades where affected girls begin breast development between the ages of 6 and 24 months. Researchers have finally concluded that the cause is phthalates. There is some indication that phthalates may also affect thyroid function.
Panel Expresses Concern About DEHP, A Plasticizer, As Used In Medical Devices For Ill Newborns
After a 15-month review of safety data on seven phthalates, or plasticizers -- the chemicals used to give plastics such characteristics as flexibility and strength -- an expert panel set up by the NIEHS/NTP’s Center for the Evaluation of Risks on Human Reproduction, has expressed “serious concern” about the use of one of the chemicals, DEHP, to make polyvinyl chloride (PVC) medical tubing and other medical devices for feeding and medicating critically ill newborn infants. Panel members said they hoped their finding would spur industry to find a substitute material but that, at this time, DEHP-derived PVC tubing continues to be needed to support preemies and other ill newborns through life-and-death situations.
The panel, which was formed of outside and government experts, including several from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and the National Toxicology Program and a chair from the Environmental Protection Agency, said DEHP could leach from continuously used tubing in sufficient amount to possibly affect the development of the male infant’s reproductive system. DEHP is no longer used in toys intended for mouthing - nipples, teethers, pacifiers, rattles - by U.S. manufacturers. Soft PVC teething toys have also been banned by the European Union.
The panel, working over a 15-month period, reviewed data on seven plasticizers and generally found “minimal” or “negligible” concerns about the others. A backgrounder on the panel’s work is available at http://ntp-server.niehs.nih.gov/htdocs/liason/CERHRPhthalatesAnnct.html
Nail Polish and Other Cosmetics May Cause Infertility
From Dr. Mercola's website, mercola.com
Women of reproductive age should avoid using certain nail polishes, perfumes,
and hair sprays containing an ingredient known to cause lifelong reproductive
impairments in male rats, The Environmental Working
Group, an environmental advocacy group, is cautioning.
The ingredients in question are dibutyl phthalates (DBP)
industrial chemicals that are used as plastic softeners and solvents in a wide
variety of products such as:
"Women of reproductive age (20-40 years) were found to have significantly higher levels of monobutyl phthalate, a reproductive and developmental toxicant in rodents, than other age/gender groups. From a public health perspective, these data provide evidence that phthalate exposure is both higher and more common than previously suspected," the CDC investigators wrote.
The investigators also speculated that the higher levels
in women of reproductive age were due to the use of cosmetics such as perfume,
nail polishes, and hair sprays. The extensive use of these products among women
is probably leading to the inhalation and absorption of this
chemical through the lungs, the investigators said.
The report from the Environmental Working Group (EWG)
(LINK) entitled "Beauty Secrets" suggests that the substance may be
responsible for the following problems, which have increased during the 1970s
The EWG says that getting any immediate regulatory action passed is virtually impossible, due to the fact that the associations are difficult to impossible to prove. Under the current regulations, the responsibility of proving that there is a public health threat from cosmetics primarily falls upon US health authorities rather than the manufacturers.
Phthalate Plasticizers Dangerous, Especially to Children
Many of the chemicals in various plastics, especially PVC, can be harmful to children, according to several new reports. Certain chemicals known as phthalates are used as plasticizers, which serve to make the plastic more flexible. Below are 2 recent studies showing dangers of 2 different types of phthalates.
Although research is currently ongoing on the toxicity of plasticizers that are commonly blended with PVC products, Italian researchers fear that they may pose a danger to babies.
In a recently published review of existing studies, Dr. Giuseppe Latini, a Pediatrician, notes some interesting points concerning the most common plasticizer, di-(2-ethylhexyl)-phthalate (DEHP):
Dr. Latini notes that "long-term exposure, especially in human beings at risk such as pregnant women and children, requires more in-depth studies."
He concludes that if future studies confirm the dangers of DEHP, "it would be advisable in the future to replace current PVC plasticizers, especially if they come into contact with babies, with better-quality materials."
DEHP is not the only plasticizer or phthalate to show toxic effects. Butyl benzyl phthalate (BBP), another plasticizer, has been shown to have estrogenic qualities, have toxic effects on the testicles, and to cause birth defects.
Now, researchers from Japan have found that the toxic effects of BBP exposure can extend into the next generation, at least in lab animals.
Investigators found that oral doses of BBP in rats had the following effects:
In the parent animals:
In the offspring:
Biology of the Neonate November, 2000; 78; 269-276 and Reproductive Toxicology 2000 Nov 1; 14: 513-532
DR. MERCOLA'S COMMENT: The effects of these chemicals on the endocrine system, particularly during pregnancy, breastfeeding and childhood are very disturbing. I would strongly disagree with the author of the first study who says that if future studies confirm the dangers of these plasticizers, that they should be replaced by safer substances.
It is criminal to wait for further results while people continue to be exposed. The precautionary principle dictates that pregnant women and babies should not be exposed to substances unless they have been shown to be essentially safe. The burden of proof should be on the manufacturers of these chemicals to PROVE that they are safe and should NOT be on scientists to prove that it is toxic.
About a year ago the European Union (EU) has banned phthalates from toys intended for children under 3 years of age (Lancet, Dec 11, 1999).