It’s common knowledge in the industry that DEHP is banned in Europe and virtually so in the States, when it comes down to it.
Now, alternative ingredients are under scrutiny as the European Commission's Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks calls for additional data on ready replacement phthalates and new research from NYU shows a connection to diabetes and high blood pressure.
Research into the health impacts of DEHP have shown that the plasticizer acts as an endocrine disrupter in both women and men.
“We found evidence reduced levels of circulating testosterone were associated with increased phthalate exposure in several key populations, including boys ages 6-12, and men and women ages 40 – 60,” reported John D Meeker of the University of Michigan School of Public Health. Meeks co-authored a study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism just last summer. (Read more on that study from Cosmetics Design.)
And more recent research indicates that incidental exposure to breakdown products of DEHP can accelerate the onset of menopause. Though, demonstrating an interconnection between exposure to phthalates and changes in health is challenging.
But, the possibility of causation is enough to worry consumers and incite regulatory advocates. “This study doesn’t prove causation, but the associations raise a red flag and support the need for future research,” confirms Amber Cooper, MD and assistant professor of obstetrics and genecology, who authored the Washington University School of Medicine study.
Scientists at New York University’s Langone Medical Center have published two related articles in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism and in Hypertension.
The later shows a correlation between the level of DINP and DIDP in subjects and the severity of their high blood pressure, according to content the university published on medicalxpress.com. “For every tenfold increase in the amount of phthalates consumed, there was a 1.1 millimeters of mercury increase in blood pressure.”
The NYU team has also linked insulin resistance to DINP and DIDP concentrations. “One in three adolescents with the highest DINP levels had the highest insulin resistance, while for those with the lowest concentrations of the chemicals, only one in four had insulin resistance,” notes the university.
Is a policy change in order?
There is worry among scientists and consumers alike that ingredients and chemicals are thoroughly tested only after they are in widespread use and have potentially damaged people’s health and the natural environment.
“Eliminating untested chemicals from the supply has proven difficult,” comments Time.com, “in part because the federal regulatory structure assumes that chemicals are ‘innocent until proven guilty,’ according to Leonardo Trasande, the NYU professor who authored the study as it appeared in Hypertension.
Thus, he proposes a change to testing protocols: “What we need here is a reform that tests chemicals proactively before they’re used on the open market.”