Hormone Disruptors are Everywhere, Report Says

     (CN) — Chemicals that disrupt human hormones are more common in household products and clothing materials than previously thought, according to a report published Thursday.
     The report includes data that was generated by a chemical-use reporting requirement in Maine, which highlights the extent to which companies use chemicals called phthalates.
     Phthalates have been tied to reproductive harm, asthma, allergies and learning disabilities — even with minimal exposure.
     These chemicals are found in shoes, fragranced personal care products, certain paints and other items that people use on or near their bodies.
     “This data provides new examples of products that are letting these hormone-assaulting chemicals infiltrate our bathrooms, kitchens, schools — and, ultimately, our bodies,” Mike Belliveau, executive director of the Maine-based Environmental Health Strategy Center and Prevent Harm, said in a statement.
     Belliveau’s group, along with co-sponsors Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families and Safer States, Women’s Voices for the Earth and several other organizations, authored the report, which showed that 14 manufacturers reported using four different phthalates in 130 products.
     Strong scientific links between phthalates and various health issues have led to restrictions on the chemicals throughout Europe, as well as the prohibition of several phthalates in children’s products within the United States.
     “To protect public health, manufacturers and retailers should move quickly to replace phthalates with safer substitutes,” Belliveau said.
     California, Oregon, Vermont, Washington and Maine have passed laws that require mandatory disclosure of chemicals in products that can harm children and babies. However, many types of common household products are still exempt.
     “That means it’s likely the data reported represents just the tip of the iceberg for uses of phthalates in household products. It also is very likely that many manufacturers are illegally failing to disclose their uses of phthalates,” Belliveau said.
     While phthalates are primarily used to make vinyl plastic flexible, the report exposed manufacturers’ use of the chemical as a fragrance ingredient in more than half the products reviewed.
     Fragrances can include dozens of chemicals, and companies are not required to disclose their ingredients publicly.
     Maine requires the disclosure of four types of phthalates: benzyl butyl phthalate, dibutyl phthalate, diethylhexyl phthalate and diethyl phthalate.
     “This new report can help retailers identify the types of products where phthalates are still hiding on store shelves,” Mike Schade, director for Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families’ “Mind the Store” campaign, said in the statement. “Big retailers should use their purchasing power and influence to drive these unnecessary toxic chemicals out of fragrance and plastics.”
     Phthalates were used in a third of the clothing, toys and home maintenance products reviewed in Maine, mostly to soften plastic.
     “This report shows that our families are being exposed to dangerous ingredients that are hiding in the products we use every day,” Janet Nudelman, director of program and policy for Breast Cancer Fund, said in the statement. “Consumers have an urgent right to full disclosure of all, and not just some, of the chemicals such as phthalates in their personal care and cleaning products so they can make safer, more informed purchases.”
     The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also released a study that detailed a connection between fast food and exposure to phthalates. People who consumed drive-thru hamburgers and take-out pizzas frequently were shown to have elevated phthalates levels in their urine.

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