Phthalates in Plastics and Possible Human Health Effects [July 14, 2008]   [open pdf - 152KB]

From the Summary: "Roughly a dozen chemicals known as phthalates are used to make the plastics found in thousands of consumer products, ranging from medical tubing to automotive dashboards to bath toys. These phthalates are not tightly held by the plastics and are released into the environment over time. Congress is concerned about possible human health effects from exposure to six of these chemicals: di-(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP), dibutyl phthalate (DBP), benzyl butyl phthalate (BBP), diisononyl phthalate (DINP), diisodecyl phthalate (DIDP), and di-n-octyl phthalate (DnOP). DEHP, DBP, BBP, and (to less extent) DINP are known to be toxic to the reproductive systems of rodents. Recent experiments demonstrate that pre-natal exposure at a sufficient level to these same phthalates disrupts the normal action of hormones and can cause malformations of the reproductive organs of offspring (especially males). […] The scientific basis for concerns about human health risks appears to be strong in the case of some phthalates (such as DEHP), adequate with respect to others (perhaps DINP), and weak for the remaining chemicals (for example, DIDP and DnOP). The strongest evidence with respect to developmental effects has been produced since about the year 2000. The Senate amendment would codify the voluntary agreements reached by CPSC [Consumer Product Safety Commission] with product manufacturers and reduce exposure to one particular phthalate. New formulations for toys and child-care products may pose greater or fewer risks than current formulations."

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CRS Report for Congress, RL34572
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