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…

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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.

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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.

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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.

Prenatal Exposure to Phthalates may increase the Risk of Asthma among Children

Phthalates, found in food packaging and other household items, have been linked to an increased risk of asthma in children

Phthalates, found in food packaging and other household items, have been linked to an increased risk of asthma in children.

New York City children exposed in the womb to moderate levels of two plasticizers had a 72 to 78 percent higher chance of developing asthma, according to a new study published in Environ Health Perspectives.

The study is the first to link childhood asthma, which has been increasing in recent decades, to prenatal exposure to phthalates.

These results suggest that phthalates may be one of the factors associated with that increase,” said Robin Whyatt, a Columbia University environmental health scientist who led the study. She added, however, that more studies are needed to understand how important a risk factor these chemicals may be.

Phthalates, used in the manufacture of vinyl and some cosmetics, have been connected to a number of health effects in lab animal and human studies, including airway inflammation, altered male genitalia, attention and learning problems and premature births.

2014 Study Abstract

Background
Studies suggest that phthalate exposures may adversely affect child respiratory health.

Objectives
We evaluated associations between asthma diagnosed in children between 5 and 11 years of age and prenatal exposures to butylbenzyl phthalate (BBzP), di-n-butyl phthalate (DnBP), di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP), and diethyl phthalate (DEP).

Methods
Phthalate metabolites were measured in spot urine collected from 300 pregnant inner-city women. Children were examined by an allergist or pulmonologist based on the first parental report of wheeze, other respiratory symptoms, and/or use of asthma rescue/controller medication in the preceding 12 months on repeat follow-up questionnaires. Standardized diagnostic criteria were used to classify these children as either having or not having current asthma at the time of the physician examination. Children without any report of wheeze or the other asthma-like symptoms were classified as nonasthmatics at the time of the last negative questionnaire. Modified Poisson regression analyses were used to estimate relative risks (RR) controlling for specific gravity and potential confounders.

Results
Of 300 children, 154 (51%) were examined by a physician because of reports of wheeze, other asthma-like symptoms, and/or medication use; 94 were diagnosed with current asthma and 60 without current asthma. The remaining 146 children were classified as nonasthmatic. Compared with levels in nonasthmatics, prenatal metabolites of BBzP and DnBP were associated with a history of asthma-like symptoms (p < 0.05) and with the diagnosis of current asthma: RR = 1.17 (95% CI: 1.01, 1.35) and RR = 1.25 (95% CI: 1.04, 1.51) per natural log-unit increase, respectively. Risk of current asthma was > 70% higher among children with maternal prenatal BBzP and DnBP metabolite concentrations in the third versus the first tertile.

Conclusion
Prenatal exposure to BBzP and DnBP may increase the risk of asthma among inner-city children. However, because this is the first such finding, results require replication.

Sources and More Information:

  • Asthma in Inner-City Children at 5-11 Years of Age and Prenatal Exposure to Phthalates: The Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health Cohort, Environ Health Perspect; DOI:10.1289/ehp.1307670, 17 September 2014. PDF and Supplemental Material.
  • Kids exposed in the womb to plasticizers more likely to have asthma, Environmental Health News, Sept. 17, 2014.
  • Some household plastics could increase risk of childhood asthma, study finds, The Guradian sustainable-business, 17 September 2014.

The Intersection of Neurotoxicology and Endocrine Disruption

BPA and phthalates associations with brain sexual differentiation are reviewed and further questions noted.

Abstract

image of ncbi logo
BPA and phthalates associations with brain sexual differentiation are reviewed and further questions noted.

Endocrine disruption, the guiding theme of the 27th International Neurotoxicology Conference, merged into the neurotoxicology agenda largely because hormones help steer the process of brain development. Although the disruption motif first attracted public health attention because of reproductive anomalies in both wildlife and humans, the neurobehavioral implications had been planted decades earlier. They stemmed from the principle that sex differences in behavior are primarily the outcomes of differences in how the brain is sexually differentiated during early development by gonadal hormones (the Organizational Hypothesis). We also now understand that environmental chemicals are capable of altering these underlying events and processes. Among those chemicals, the group labeled as endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) offers the clearest evidence of such selectivity, a consequence of their actions on the endogenous sex steroids, androgens and estrogens. Two EDCs in particular offer useful and intriguing examples. One is phthalate esters. The other is bisphenol A (BPA). Both agents are used extensively in plastics manufacture, and are pervasive in the environment. Both are produced in immense quantities. Both are found in almost all humans. Phthalates are considered to function in essence as anti-androgens, while bisphenol A is labeled as an estrogen. Their associations with brain sexual differentiation are reviewed and further questions noted. Both EDCs produce a wider spectrum of health effects, however, than would be extrapolated simply from their properties as anti-androgens and estrogens. Obesity is one example. Further complicating their assessment as health risks are questions about nonmonotonic dose-response functions and about transgenerational effects incurred via epigenetic mechanisms. All these facets of endocrine disruption are pieces of a puzzle that challenge neurotoxicologists for solutions.

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PVC Flooring related to Human Uptake of Phthalates in Infants

#Phthalates – used as softeners in PVC flooring material and suspected as #EDCs – are absorbed by the body of the infants and the amount absorbed depends up on the body area of the infants.

Image of an infant on pvc flooring
Phthalates are absorbed by the body of  infants. The amount absorbed depends up on the infants body area

Phthalates are chemical compounds present in commonly used materials like cleaning solvents, toys, etc. They are also used as softeners in poly vinyl chloride (PVC) flooring material. Earlier studies have found that phthalates can result in several chronic diseases in children like asthma and allergies. They are suspected to be endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs). A 2012 study conducted by scientists from Karlstad University in Sweden and published in the journal Indoor Air has found that phthalates can be absorbed by the bodies of infants and produce asthma in them.

For their research, the scientists led by Carl-Gustaf Bornehag, professor of public health at Karlstad University, randomly selected 83 children from Varmland, Western Sweden. All the children were between the ages of two and six months. Urine samples, collected from the children, were analyzed for the presence of metabolites of di-ethyl phthalate (DEP), di-butyl phthalate (DBP), butyl benzyl phthalate (BBzP) and di-ethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP). The family members of the children were also asked to fill up a questionnaire elated to their lifestyles and to their indoor environmental factors including the flooring material used in their homes.

The researchers found that the levels of metabolites of BBzP were significantly higher in those infants whose bedroom had PVC flooring. It was also seen that the levels of this metabolite in the urine corresponded to the surface area of the infants. It was noted that the levels of the metabolites of DHEP were higher in two months old infants who were not solely on breast milk compared to those who were completely breast fed.

The study clearly shows that phthalates are absorbed by the body of the infants and the amount absorbed depends up on the body area of the infants. These chemicals also reach the infant formula through indoor dust and can be absorbed through the food.

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