Monday, 17 July 2017

Phthalates: Dangerous Chemical Toxins That Must Be Avoided

Phthalates are chemical compounds that are commonly added to plastics to increase their flexibility, transparency, durability and longevity. Phthalates are used in a wide range of cosmetic and food products — plus, they’re released into the environment. Diet is believed to be the main source of phthalates because fatty foods such as milk, butter and meats are commonly packaged or stored in plastics containing this dangerous toxin.

Phthalates are colorless, odorless liquids produced by reacting phthalic anhydride with an appropriate alcohol. According to tests done by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, most Americans have metabolites of multiple phthalates in their urine. These toxins can be absorbed into the body not only with food, but through the air and skin too. Indoor concentrations seem to be significantly higher than outdoor concentrations, and indoor air pollution can be worse than outdoor. Plus, higher temperatures result in higher concentrations of phthalates in the air.

A 2003 study published in Environmental Health Perspectives suggests that environmental levels of phthalates are associated with altered DNA integrity in human sperm. The study consisted of 168 males who were recruited from the Massachusetts General Hospital Andrology Laboratory and provided semen and urine samples. The results indicate that monoethyl phthalate found in urine does increase DNA damage in sperm.

A 2005 scientific review published in Occupational and Environmental Medicine evaluated many animal and human studies associated with exposure to phthalates and reproductive development. In experimental animal studies, primarily in rodents, some phthalates induced reproductive tract developmental issues that consisted of epididymal malformations or absence of the epididymis, increased incidence of hypospadias (opening of the urethra in males), decreased distance between the genitals and anus, delayed preputial separation (pubertal milestone), retention of thoracic nipples, and testicular lesions.

Some studies reported associations between pubertal and adult exposure to phthalates and testicular toxicity. There is also research to suggest that phthalates exposure prolongs the cycles of reproductive hormones, suppresses or delays ovulation, leads to smaller pre-ovulatory follicles due to reduced granulosa cell size, and decreases circulating serum oestradiol, which is a reproductive hormone.

Researchers agree that something had to be done about this dangerous chemical toxin. In 2010, the market was still dominated by high-phthalate plasticizers; however, due to current legal provisions and growing environmental awareness and perceptions, producers are increasingly forced to use non-phthalate plasticizers. It’s up to us, the consumers, to search out phthalate-free products and avoid using foods and goods that contain this serious toxin.

Where Are Phthalates?

1. Packaging
You may be shocked to find out that phthalates are found in the packaging of many products, including children’s toys, paint, printing inks and coatings, clay, pharmaceuticals, food products, and textiles.

2. Cosmetic Products
What’s the real price of beauty? Phthalates are used in perfumes, eye shadow, moisturizer, deodorant, nail polish, liquid soap, shampoo, conditioner and hair spray.

3. Household Products
Who knew that chemical toxins are in household cleaning products? Phthalates are also in detergents, shower curtains, vinyl upholstery, carpeting, wire coatings, adhesives, floor tiles, food containers and wrappers.

4. Medical and Personal-Care Products
Phthalates are present in the enteric coatings of pharmaceutical pills and nutritional supplements; they’re also in gelling agents, film formers, stabilizers, dispersants, lubricants, binders, emulsifying agents and suspending agents. Adhesives and glues, agricultural adjuvants, building materials, personal-care products, modern electronics, and medical applications such as catheters and blood transfusion devices also contain phthalates. Even most sunscreen is toxic, containing phthalates and more.

A 2004 study done at the Harvard School of Public Health found that enteric coatings used on medications and supplements generally consist of various polymers that contain plasticizers, including triethyl citrate, dibutyl sebacate, and phthalates such as diethyl phthalate and dibutyl phthalate. The study consisted of a spot urine sample from a man collected three months after he started taking Asacol, a medication with an enteric coating. The results showed that the concentration of phthalates in his urine was higher than the 95th percentile for males reported in the 1999–2000 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

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