Phthalates are everywhere so what can I do?

Phthalates are used in everyday items, including cosmetics

lipstick image
Phthalates are used in everyday items, including cosmetics. Image via Gilbert Rodriguez.

Lately, it seems like a new study on the health impacts of phthalates comes out every week. The chemicals are everywhere: they are used in everything from household cleaners to food packaging to fragrance, cosmetics, and personal-care products.

Consumers can take matters into their own hands by avoiding products packaged in “recycling-code-3” plastic, products that include the vague ingredient “fragrance” on their label, and purchasing organic products packaged in glass as much as possible.

Sources and more information

  • Phthalates are everywhere, and the health risks are worrying. How bad are they really?, theguardian, 2015/feb/10.
  • Chronic Hazard Advisory Panel (Chap) on Phthalates, U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission Report, July 2014.

The association of EDC exposure with earlier age of menopause

High levels of chemicals found in plastics, personal-care products, common household items and the environment have been linked to an early decline in ovarian function

Earlier menopause linked to everyday chemical exposures image
High levels of chemicals found in plastics, personal-care products, common household items and the environment have been linked to an early decline in ovarian function.

Abstract

Objective
Endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) adversely affect human health. Our objective was to determine the association of EDC exposure with earlier age of menopause.

Methods
Cross-sectional survey using National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) data from 1999 to 2008 (n = 31,575 females). Eligible participants included: menopausal women >30 years of age; not currently pregnant, breastfeeding, using hormonal contraception; no history of bilateral oophorectomy or hysterectomy. Exposures, defined by serum lipid and urine creatinine-adjusted measures of EDCs, data were analyzed: > 90th percentile of the EDC distribution among all women, log-transformed EDC level, and decile of EDC level. Multi linear regression models considered complex survey design characteristics and adjusted for age, race/ethnicity, smoking, body mass index. EDCs were stratified into long (>1 year), short, and unknown half-lives; principle analyses were performed on those with long half-lives as well as phthalates, known reproductive toxicants. Secondary analysis determined whether the odds of being menopausal increased with EDC exposure among women aged 45–55 years.

Findings
This analysis examined 111 EDCs and focused on known reproductive toxicants or chemicals with half-lives >1 year. Women with high levels of β-hexachlorocyclohexane, mirex, p,p’-DDE, 1,2,3,4,6,7,8-heptachlorodibenzofuran, mono-(2-ethyl-5-hydroxyhexyl) and mono-(2-ethyl-5-oxohexyl) phthalate, polychlorinated biphenyl congeners −70, −99, −105, −118, −138, −153, −156, −170, and −183 had mean ages of menopause 1.9 to 3.8 years earlier than women with lower levels of these chemicals. EDC-exposed women were up to 6 times more likely to be menopausal than non-exposed women.

Conclusions
This study of a representative sample of US women documents an association between EDCs and earlier age at menopause. We identified 15 EDCs that warrant closer evaluation because of their persistence and potential detrimental effects on ovarian function. Earlier menopause can alter the quantity and quality of a woman’s life and has profound implications for fertility, human reproduction, and our global society.

Sources and more information

Puberty comes earlier for Girls, thanks to EDCs and Phthalates Exposure

Findings suggest an association between 2, 5-DCP, a potential EDC, and earlier age of menarche in the general U.S. population. Also phthalates may cause weight gain and so influence the timing of puberty…

Puberty-for-Girls
Puberty comes earlier for girls, thanks to EDCs and phthalates… image via Mark Nockleby .

At the turn of the 20th century, the average age for an American girl to get her period was 16 to 17. Today, it is less than 13, according to national data. The trend has been attributed to the epidemic of overweight children and a greater exposure to pollution – the n° 1 factor that is pushing girls into puberty early seems to be their body mass index.

Among the toxins causing this trend, the biggest offenders are plastic compounds, in particular phthalates, man-made chemicals found all over the place: in plastic food and beverage containers, carpeting, shampoos, insect repellents, vinyl flooring, shower curtains, plastic toys and in the steering wheels and dashboards of most cars. Our bodies cannot metabolize phthalates, which interfere with the endocrine system—the body’s system of glands and hormones—and harm fat cells. Indirectly, phthalates may cause weight gain and so influence the timing of puberty…

Abstract

Background:
The observed age of menarche has fallen, which may have important adverse social and health consequences. Increased exposure to endocrine-disrupting compounds (EDCs) has been associated with adverse reproductive outcomes.

Objective:
Our objective was to assess the relationship between EDC exposure and the age of menarche in adolescent girls.

Methods:
We used data from female participants 12–16 years of age who had completed the reproductive health questionnaire and laboratory examination for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) for years 2003–2008 (2005–2008 for analyses of phthalates and parabens). Exposures were assessed based on creatinine-corrected natural log urine concentrations of selected environmental chemicals and metabolites found in at least 75% of samples in our study sample. We used Cox proportional hazards analysis in SAS 9.2 survey procedures to estimate associations after accounting for censored data among participants who had not reached menarche. We evaluated body mass index (BMI; kilograms per meter squared), family income-to-poverty ratio, race/ethnicity, mother’s smoking status during pregnancy, and birth weight as potential confounders.

Results:
The weighted mean age of menarche was 12.0 years of age. Among 440 girls with both reproductive health and laboratory data, after accounting for BMI and race/ethnicity, we found that 2, 5-dichlorophenol (2, 5-DCP) and summed environmental phenols (2, 5-DCP and 2, 4-DCP) were inversely associated with age of menarche [hazard ratios of 1.10; 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.01, 1.19 and 1.09; 95% CI: 1.01, 1.19, respectively]. Other exposures (total parabens, bisphenol A, triclosan, benzophenone-3, total phthalates, and 2, 4-DCP) were not significantly associated with age of menarche.

Conclusions:
Our findings suggest an association between 2, 5-DCP, a potential EDC, and earlier age of menarche in the general U.S. population.

Sources and more information

Toxic chemicals are everywhere

Chances are that your home is polluted with dangerous and sometimes life threatening chemicals…

Watch @DES_Journal diaporama and health posters album on Flickr.

Chances are that your home is polluted with dangerous and sometimes life threatening chemicals…

On Flickr®

À propos des phtalates et des parabènes

Interview Universcience TV de Robert Barouki, 2011

Le 3 mai 2011, l’assemblée nationale votait en première lecture un projet de loi visant à interdire l’utilisation des phtalates et des parabènes, perturbateurs endocriniens très répandus dans les produits de la vie quotidienne. Juin 2011, universcience.tv fasait le point avec Robert Barouki, toxicologue à l’Inserm.

Sources and more information

Prenatal Exposure to Phthalates in Lipstick, Nail Varnish blunts Child IQ

Persistent Associations between Maternal Prenatal Exposure to Phthalates on Child IQ at Age 7 Years

According to researchers at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, children exposed during pregnancy to elevated levels of two common chemicals found in the home—di-n-butyl phthalate (DnBP) and di-isobutyl phthalate (DiBP)—had an IQ score, on average, more than six points lower than children exposed at lower levels.

ColumbiaPublicHealth study is the first to report a link between prenatal exposure to phthalates and IQ in school-age children.

Prenatal-Exposure-to-Phthalates image
Additives found in plastics and scented products could affect brain development and lower IQ.

Abstract

Background
Prior research reports inverse associations between maternal prenatal urinary phthalate metabolite concentrations and mental and motor development in preschoolers. No study evaluated whether these associations persist into school age.

Methods
In a follow up of 328 inner-city mothers and their children, we measured prenatal urinary metabolites of di-n-butyl phthalate (DnBP), butylbenzyl phthalate (BBzP), di-isobutyl phthalate (DiBP), di-2-ethylhexyl phthalate and diethyl phthalate in late pregnancy. The Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children, 4th edition was administered at child age 7 years and evaluates four areas of cognitive function associated with overall intelligence quotient (IQ).

Results
Child full-scale IQ was inversely associated with prenatal urinary metabolite concentrations of DnBP and DiBP: b = −2.69 (95% confidence interval [CI] = −4.33, −1.05) and b = −2.69 (95% CI = −4.22, −1.16) per log unit increase. Among children of mothers with the highest versus lowest quartile DnBP and DiBP metabolite concentrations, IQ was 6.7 (95% CI = 1.9, 11.4) and 7.6 (95% CI = 3.2, 12.1) points lower, respectively. Associations were unchanged after control for cognition at age 3 years. Significant inverse associations were also seen between maternal prenatal metabolite concentrations of DnBP and DiBP and child processing speed, perceptual reasoning and working memory; DiBP and child verbal comprehension; and BBzP and child perceptual reasoning.

Conclusion
Maternal prenatal urinary metabolite concentrations measured in late pregnancy of DnBP and DiBP are associated with deficits in children’s intellectual development at age 7 years. Because phthalate exposures are ubiquitous and concentrations seen here within the range previously observed among general populations, results are of public health significance.

Sources and more information

Medical device-related exposures to phthalates by premature infants much too high

JHU Public Health recommend to use alternative products that don’t contain DEHP as initial step in reducing phthalate exposures during critical care

Hospitalized premature infants are exposed to unsafe levels of a chemical found in numerous medical products used to treat them, raising questions about whether critically ill newborns may be adversely affected by equipment designed to help save their lives.

Abstract

JHU Public Health
JHU Public Health recommend to use alternative products that don’t contain DEHP as initial step in reducing phthalate exposures during critical care.

Objective:
To assess the types and magnitudes of non-endocrine toxic risks to neonates associated with medical device-related exposures to di(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate (DEHP).

Study design:
Dose-response thresholds for DEHP toxicities were determined from published data, as were the magnitudes of DEHP exposures resulting from neonatal contact with polyvinyl chloride (PVC) devices. Standard methods of risk assessment were used to determine safe levels of DEHP exposure in neonates, and hazard quotients were calculated for devices individually and in aggregate.

Result:
Daily intake of DEHP for critically ill preterm infants can reach 16 mg/kg per day, which is on the order of 4000 and 160,000 times higher than desired to avoid reproductive and hepatic toxicities, respectively. The non-endocrine toxicities of DEHP are similar to complications experienced by preterm neonates.

Conclusion:
DEHP exposures in neonatal intensive care are much higher than estimated safe limits, and might contribute to common early and chronic complications of prematurity. Concerns about phthalates should be expanded beyond endocrine disruption.

Sources and more information
  • Phthalates and critically ill neonates: device-related exposures and non-endocrine toxic risks, Journal of Perinatology , doi:10.1038/jp.2014.157, 13 November 2014.
  • Premature Infants Are Exposed to Unsafe Levels of Chemical in Medical Products Used to Save Their Lives, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, newswise, 10-Nov-2014.

Prenatal DiNP Phthalate Exposure and Changes in Baby Boys’ Genitals

Study raises concern about DiNP, a phthalate being used in increased amounts in products that contain vinyl plastics, and the impact on the developing fetus

newborn
This study raises concern about DiNP, a phthalate being used in increased amounts in products that contain vinyl plastics, and the impact on the developing fetus.

Boys exposed in the womb to high levels of a chemical found in vinyl products are born with slightly altered genital development, according to research published today. The study of nearly 200 Swedish babies is the first to link the chemical di-isononyl phthalate (DiNP) to changes in the development of the human male reproductive tract.

Abstract:

Background:
Phthalates are used as plasticizers in soft polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and in a large number of consumer products. Due to reported health risks, di-isononyl phthalate (DiNP) has been introduced as a replacement for diethyl hexyl phthalate (DEHP) in soft PVC. This raises concerns since animal data suggest that DiNP may have anti-androgenic properties similar to DEHP. The anogenital distance (AGD) – the distance from the anus to the genitals – has been used to assess reproductive toxicity.

Objective:
The objective of this study was to examine the associations between prenatal phthalate exposure and AGD in Swedish infants.

Methods:
AGD was measured in 196 boys at age 21 months and first trimester urine was analyzed for ten phthalate metabolites of DEP, DBP, DEHP, BBzP as well as DiNP and creatinine. Data on covariates were collected by questionnaires.

Results:
The most significant associations were found between the shorter of two AGD measures (anoscrotal distance, AGDas) and DiNP metabolites and strongest for oh-MMeOP and oxo-MMeOP. However, the AGDas reduction was small (4%) in relation to more than an interquartile increase in DiNP exposure.

Conclusions:
These findings call into question the safety of substituting DiNP for DEHP in soft PVC, particularly since a shorter male AGD has been shown to relate to male genital birth defects in children and impaired reproductive function in adult males and the fact that human levels of DiNP are increasing globally.

Sources and more information:
  • Prenatal Phthalate Exposures and Anogenital Distance in Swedish Boys, EHP, DOI:10.1289/ehp.1408163, 29 October 2014.
    Full study PDF.
  • Plastics chemical linked to changes in baby boys’ genitals,
    EHN, Oct. 29, 2014.

Endocrine Disruption and Immune Dysfunction

By the Collaborative on Health and the Environment

Dr. Rodney Dietert discussed how the immune system is a target for endocrine disrupting chemicals, particularly during development.

On this first in a series of calls on endocrine disrupting chemicals, Dr. Rodney Dietert discussed how the immune system is a target for endocrine disrupting chemicals, particularly during development. Numerous relatively ‘hidden’ effects can ensue from a single risk factor and emerge over a lifetime. He also discussed how current safety testing fails to appropriately assess misregulated inflammation as the greatest immune based health risk.

Sources:

Phthalates and Young Girls Exposure

Puberty comes earlier for Girls, thanks to EDCs and Phthalates Exposure

Phthalates Campaign for Safe Cosmetics
Get Involved! Sources: Campaign for Safe Cosmetics on Facebook.