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Health & Medicine Chemical Bans Reduce Risk of Human Exposure

Chemical Bans Reduce Risk of Human Exposure

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First Posted: Jan 16, 2014 10:48 AM EST
Puzzle composed of three plastic microparts
Puzzle composed of three plastic microparts produced by the LIGA2.X process. (Photo : Jochen Heneka, KIT)

Due to risks involved with potentially dangerous chemicals found in products, government agencies throughout the world have issued bans on certain compounds. However, a recent study shows that some of the bans have not been so successful. Unfortunately, some companies may be replacing harmful chemicals with new ones found in everyday products. 

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Researchers from George Washington University's School of Public Health and Health Zota found that the ban of certain chemicals known as phthalates are effective at reducing people's exposure to a combination of harmful ingredients. Unfortunately, findings show that for phthalates that have not been banned, human exposure to them has increased.

"Exposure to three of the phthalates that have been banned in children's toys have decreased over 10 years," lead study researcher Ami Zota, an assistant professor of environmental and occupational health at George Washington University's School of Public Health and Health Serivces said, via a press release. "[The increase] is probably because these new phthalates are replacing the phthalates that been phased out."

These chemicals are typically used to make plastic that may be found in bottles, nail polish, toys and fragrances. In 2009, the U.S. Congress even passed a partial ban on phthalates from children's toys.

Researchers examined data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that contained information on 11,000 U.S. citizens from 2001 to 2010. All of the participants had been involved in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

More specifically, study authors focused on the following eight phthalates: BBzP, DnBP, DEH, DnOP, DiDP, DiNP, DEP and DiBP.   DnBo, BBzP and DEHP were the three chemicals partially banned from children's toys. As exposure to these chemicals has been linked to a disruption of growth hormones, background information from the study shows that their use has declined.

However, exposure levels of DnOP, DiNP and DiDP have increased by 15 to 25 percent. The levels of DiNP have also increased by close to 160 percent.

Despite that health officials have worked to ban certain phthalates, researchers believe that companies may simply replace these chemicals with new ones that could pose a detrimental threat to our health. 

More information regarding the study can be found via the journal Environmental Health Perspectives

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