Phthalates are a group of synthetic chemicals used to make plastics more durable. They are known to disrupt the endocrine system’s function— the body’s mechanism for hormone production, and they are linked with problems in development, reproduction, brain and immunity, according to the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.
Consumer Products Which Contained Phthalates
A new study found synthetic chemicals known as phthalates, which are found in hundreds of consumer products such as food storage containers, shampoo, makeup, perfume, and children’s toys, may cause 91,000 to 107,000 premature deaths in people aged 55 to 64 in the United States each year, CNN Health reported. The study published on Tuesday in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Pollution stated people with the highest levels of phthalates are at a higher risk of death from any cause, particularly cardiovascular mortality.
According to the report, these fatalities could cost the United States $40 to $47 billion in lost economic productivity per year. “This study adds to the growing database on the impact of plastics on the human body and strengthens public health and business cases for reducing or eliminating the use of plastics,” said lead author Dr. Leonardo Trasande, pediatrics, environmental medicine, and population health professor at NYU Langone Health in New York City.
Health Threats Posed By Phthalates
According to the NIEHS, even minor hormone disturbances can have “major developmental and physiologic implications.” Previous studies have linked phthalates to reproductive issues such as genital malformations and undescended testes in baby boys, as well as lower sperm counts and testosterone levels in adult males. Phthalates have also been related to childhood obesity, asthma, cardiovascular disease, and cancer in previous research.
Phthalates, also known as “everywhere chemicals” due to their widespread use, are added to consumer products such as PVC plumbing, vinyl flooring, rain- and stain-resistant products, medical tubing, garden hoses, and some children’s toys to make the plastic more flexible and less likely to break. Other common sources of phthalate exposure include the use of phthalates in food packaging, detergents, clothing, furniture, and automotive plastics. Phthalates are also used to extend the life of fragrances in personal care products such as shampoo, soap, hair spray, and cosmetics.
The CDC says people are exposed when they inhale polluted air or consume or drink food that has come into touch with plastic. The CDC confirms when kids crawl around and touch things before sucking their hands, this hand-to-mouth habit may make phthalate dust more dangerous for children than adults.