Several scientists have urged the elimination of phthalates from all consumer products for safety reasons. This is a reported journal Environmental Pollution.
Researchers at New York University’s Grossman School of Medicine are calling for urgent regulations that limit the use of phthalates in plastics. Scientists estimate that up to 100,000 premature deaths in the United States each year can be attributed to exposure to these chemicals.
Phthalates are chemicals that are often added to plastics to make them softer and more flexible. They have been used in manufacturing for over 50 years in thousands of different consumer products. Among them are personal hygiene products (colognes, perfumes, soaps and shampoos), medicines and equipment for the food industry.
Extensive animal studies have shown that exposure to a chemical can disrupt the normal function of hormones. The new study, published in the journal Environmental Pollution, is looking at the relationship between phthalate exposure and mortality in 5,303 adults.
“Our results show that increased exposure to phthalates is associated with premature death,” explains Leonardo Trasande, lead author of the new study.
Extrapolating from the results to all people aged 55 to 64 in the United States, the researchers estimate that phthalate exposure could cause 100,000 premature deaths each year. The economic damage from these early deaths is estimated at more than US $ 40 billion.
The relationship between phthalate exposure during pregnancy and abnormal brain development has been studied for years. Earlier in a review article on the topic, researchers called for an immediate ban on the use of the chemical in plastics.
Scientists explain why there is a need to ban the use of phthalates not only in plastics but also in consumer products. Many products contain a potentially harmful chemical, but companies are not required to list it as an ingredient. For example, personal care products (shampoo and soap) can often contain phthalates in fragrances. And consumers will never know they are exposed to this chemical, because the scent is part of the manufacturer’s trade secret. Plus, it’s really hard for consumers to read labels with long chemical names.