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Bans on Chemicals Effectively Reduce Human Exposure

Update Date: Jan 16, 2014 10:18 AM EST
Plastic, toys
A new study found that even though a partial ban on phthalates have reduced human exposures, exposures to other chemicals have increased. (Photo : Wiki Commons)

For decades, experts and researchers have identified harmful ingredients used in everyday products. Due to the risks involved, such as cancer, government agencies throughout the world have issued bans on certain chemicals. In a new study, researchers found that banning certain chemicals called phthalates effectively reduced people's exposure to the harmful ingredients. Despite this finding, the researchers also reported that for phthalates that have not been banned, human exposures have increased.

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

Phthalates are chemicals used to make plastics more flexible. The chemicals can be found in plastic toys, bottles, nail polish and fragrances. The U.S. Congress passed a partial ban on phthalates from children's toys and products in 2009. For this study, Zota examined data from the U.S. Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The data had information on 11,000 U.S. citizens gathered from 2001 to 2010. The people had participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

The team focused on eight kinds of phthalates, which were BBzP, DnBP, DEH, DnOP, DiDP, DiNP, DEP and DiBP. BBzP, DnBO and DEHP were the three chemicals that were banned in children's toys. Exposures to these three chemicals, which have been tied to disrupting growth hormones, have declined. However, DnOP, DiDP and DiNP exposure levels have increased by 15 to 25 percent. Levels of DiNP have soared by almost 150 percent and levels of DiBP have nearly tripled. Exposure level to DEP have declined by 42 percent.

The researchers believe that even though certain phthalates have been banned, companies have simply replaced those chemicals with other ones that can also be detrimental to one's health.

"We need to do a better job of understanding the health and safety ramifications of chemicals before they're used in a widespread manner," Zota added according to WebMD.

The research was published in the journal, Environmental Health Perspectives.

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