How harmful are phthalates?

January 15, 2010

How harmful are phthalates?

DEHP: It is considered one of the most toxic phthalates and has been banned in toys in several countries. Exposure to it via house dust is known to cause asthma and allergy in children. In mammals it has been found to interfere with male and female reproductive systems such as early development of testes. It has also been found responsible for poor semen quality, genital defects and premature breast development in humans, and reduced testosterone in male rats. Exposure to DEHP during pregnancy has also been linked to pre-term birth in human beings.

DINP: Prenatal toxicity studies on rats have shown slightly increased rates of skeletal retardation and occurrence of soft tissue and skeletal malformations. When fed to rats it leads to increased liver and kidney weights.

DBP: It has been linked to poor semen quality in men, premature breast development in females and asthma and allergic symptoms in children. In male rat pups developmental defects similar to the testicular dysgenesis syndrome have been documented. Genital defects and reduced anogenital distance — between the anus and the base of the penis — a sign of reproductive disorder, in male rats have also been observed.

Studies done to test phthalate toxicity

2000: Study examines premature breast development among young girls under eight years in Puerto Rico. Analysis was done on 41 serum samples from thelarche patients (with premature breast development) and 35 control samples. Results show high levels of DEHP and DBP among young girls with premature breast development. (Colon I, Caro D, Bourdony CJ, Bourdony CJ and Rosario O., http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2556932/)

2000: Study examines the health effects of various phthalates including DEHP, BBP and DINP in male rat pups. Shows that male pups exposed to DEHP, BBP and DINP displayed nipples when compared with rat pups which did not receive these. (Parks LG, Ostby JS, Lambright CR, Abbott BD, Klinefelter GR, BarlowNJ and Gray LE., http://toxsci.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/content/full/58/2/339?ct)

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