Male infants exposed in the womb to DEHP, a chemical commonly used to soften plastic, could have altered genital development, according to new research published today in the peer-reviewed journal Human Reproduction.
As stated in the study: “The data we report here suggest that even at current low levels, environmental exposure to DEHP may affect male genital development resulting in reproductive tract changes with potentially significant health consequences for these boys as they mature. These findings have important implications for public policy since virtually all pregnant women and infants are exposed to this ubiquitous chemical.”
Exposure to DEHP and other phthalates is also common in a healthcare setting. These chemicals can be found in feeding tubes, catheters and incubators, to name just a few examples. As a result, patients are routinely exposed to harmful chemicals in places designed to heal them.
“Today’s report highlights the risks posed by early exposure to DEHP but prolonged exposure is also a cause for concern,” states Anja Leetz, Executive Director for Health Care Without Harm (HCWH) Europe. “Exposure to these hormone-disrupting chemicals is unacceptable when safer alternatives exist.”
The European Commission is currently reviewing an authorisation request for the use of DEHP in PVC plastic. HCWH Europe calls on the Commission to deny this request given the growing scientific evidence about the dangers of DEHP to human development. The Commission must act to safeguard our health and ensure the well being of future generations.
Read more about HCWH Europe's work on Safer Chemicals.