September 1, 2011
ACC Response to Silent Spring Institute’s Dietary Intervention Study (Rudel et al 2011)
Rudel et al. (2011) reported a surprising reduction in metabolites of bis(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP) in their dietary intervention study, considering that—to the best of the industry’s knowledge—the plasticizer is no longer used in the food packaging products that the authors removed from the subjects’ dietary routine. Although we question the public health significance of a potential reduction of a few micrograms per liter of DEHP metabolites, we initially saw the study as having the potential to improve our understanding of how low-level exposure to DEHP, suggested by the presence of the metabolites, may be occurring. Unfortunately, in reviewing the Rudel et al. analysis more thoroughly, we were disappointed.
Read more at Environmental Health Perspectives.
June 11, 2009
Science Daily: Phthalates Link to Birth Defect Debunked
In a June 6, Science Daily story, researchers based at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center and Children's Hospital of Philadelphia reported to find no rise in rates of hypospadias in New York State after examining data collected from 1992 to 2005.
“These studies break the link between the purported cause—phthalates—and their presumed effect—impaired male reproductive health,” says lead researcher Dr. Harry Fisch, director of the Male Reproductive Center at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center and professor of clinical urology at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons.
Read more at Science Daily.
June 11, 2009
Phthalates-autism Link is “Far from Conclusive”
Christopher Bryant, managing director for the Chemical Products and Technology Division, American Chemistry Council, issued the following statement in response to the study—“Associations between indoor environmental factors and parental-reported autistic spectrum disorders in children 6–8 years of age,” to be published in NeuroToxicology:
“Autism is a serious disease that deserves concentrated and systematic efforts from the scientific community to examine its cause and implement effective treatments. However, we want to be clear that no studies have demonstrated a causal link between phthalates and autism. One study conducted by Swedish and U.S. researchers looked at the association between indoor environmental factors and autism. The authors speculated that phthalates in PVC flooring may be among potential factors, but cautioned that the findings were ‘far from conclusive’ and ‘not readily explicable.’ In short, scientific studies have not demonstrated a causal link between exposure to phthalates and autism.”
April 1, 2009
NPR: Public Concern, Not Science, Prompts Plastics Ban
In an interview with NPR’s science reporter Jon Hamilton, a Consumer Product Safety Commission scientist said the new federal law restricting phthalates in toys and other children’s product is “not necessary.” Congress passed the restriction in 2008 despite advice from scientists within the CPSC.
"There was not a risk of injury to children," says Dr. Marilyn Wind, deputy associate executive director for health sciences at CPSC.
Read more and listen to the radio segment at NPR.
December 9, 2008
Phthalates and Toxicity
When the word “toxic” is used in everyday conversation, it often means something that could readily cause harm. Something “non-toxic” suggests that it will not cause harm. Many groups are suggesting that we need to get rid of all “toxic” chemicals and replace them with “non-toxic” ones. However, this is misleading. All chemicals, whether naturally occurring or synthetic, can produce toxic effects above a certain level of exposure. For example, a rapid intake of a large amount of water can be as deadly as consuming a small dose of a highly toxic substance like cyanide.
Regarding phthalates, data from U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) biomonitoring report indicates that the general population’s exposures were far below the reference doses set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Furthermore, the Chronic Hazard Advisory Panel (CHAP) of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) concluded in 2002 that exposure to DINP—the primary phthalate used in toys—would pose a minimal to nonexistent risk of injury for the majority of children. In 2007, the CPSC sent a letter to California Senator George Runner regarding children’s toys and PVC. In this letter, the CPSC reinforced its 2002 decision and indicated “that the CPSC staff has kept abreast of the new research and has not seen anything that would cause a change in the staff’s position on this issue.” CPSC has never expressed immediate concerns about phthalates used in toys and child care articles. It is also worth noting that unlike children’s products with lead that have been recalled by CPSC numerous times in the past—there has been no equivalent activity by the CPSC with regard to phthalates.
Phthalates and Hormone Disruption
Phthalates are sometimes referred to as “endocrine disruptors,” “endocrine mimics” or “hormone-like” by some groups, but those characterizations are also highly misleading. The major phthalates in commerce today do not interfere with or mimic either the estrogen or androgen receptors when tested in laboratory animals. That is, they neither activate the male or female hormone receptors nor prevent activation by natural hormones.
High doses of some phthalates can interfere with normal sexual development in male rats, but this is not true in mice, nor in monkeys, and therefore highly unlikely in humans given that there are significant differences in the male reproductive tract of rodents and primates. Studies have suggested that reactions to phthalates exposure vary from species to species because primates simply do not absorb phthalates as efficiently as rodents do.
Learn more about endocrine disruption.