Recently, Environmental Health News published the results of a study on phthalates with some eye-opening news, especially for pregnant women, which may have a bearing on the development of babies in the womb. (The actual study was published in the scientific journal, Toxicological Sciences.)
The subject of concern is phthalates. Phthalates are found throughout our world’s environment today. If you have a plastic bottle in your refrigerator or a doll in your child’s toy box, more than likely the plastic used in their manufacture contains some phthalates. Phthalates are the chemicals used in plastics, especially polyvinyl chloride (PVC), to make them more flexible and easier to handle. Phthalates can be found also in food packaging and personal care items, such as fragrances, nail polish, and shampoo. Other items which may contain phthalates are vinyl products, plastic shower curtains, medical tubing, flooring, and toys. Some phthalates leach out of products, however, and exposure can occur when they are absorbed by skin, breathed, or eaten.
Animal and human studies have linked phthalates to a variety of health issues, including obesity and ADHD, and, according to Environmental Health News, the U.S. population has shown measurable levels of phthalates in their bodies. This should be no surprise when we consider that just about everything we touch is a plastic in some form or other.
One particular phthalate, di-pentyl phthalate (DPeP), is presently under the microscope. The results of the aforementioned study point to the fact that exposure to DPeP may cause retarded testicular development in male offspring. And while the study was performed in rats, measurable levels of phthalates in blood, urine, breast milk, and amniotic fluid of humans has been linked to hindering the production of testosterone in developing babies.
Scientifically speaking, “The results provide strong evidence that DPeP – a little known and understudied phthalate – may actually pose a greater risk to the developing male reproductive system than the better-known DEHP. DPeP was eight times more potent in reducing testosterone production, 3 – 6 times more potent in blocking gene activity, and 2 – 3 times more potent in causing male genital abnormalities.”
As the article referenced suggests, this study provides support to the theory that exposure to phthalates adversely affects pre-birth development in babies, and the use of phthalates may require additional scrutiny as well as more stringent government regulation. According to the Environmental Protection Agency’s Phthalates Action Plan (June 25, 2010), the EPA is moving in several different ways (proposed rulemaking, data collection and the study on Environment and Green Chemistry Alternatives for 2012) to add additional phthalates to their stringent regulations of use and to encourage the development of safer chemicals for humanity.
Childsafetyblog.org thinks keeping babies and children safe is about the most important thing we can do, and whatever it takes to put forth and implement more stringent regulations on the use of DPeP we heartily encourage!
 Environmental Health News, “A Little Known ‘Super Phthalate’ Packs A Big Punch To Males, A Rat Study Finds”, February 17, 2011, website http://www.environmentalhealthnews.org/ehs/newscience/little-known-phthalate-dpep-very-toxic-to-testosterone-production/
 Op. Cit.