About 18 billion pounds of phthalates are produced every year for products from adhesives to raincoats, garden hoses, and plastic bags to cosmetics, food containers and car interiors.
In several studies, phthalates have been associated with serious health problems such as infertility, testicular dysgenesis syndrome, obesity, asthma and allergies, as well as uterine fibroids and breast cancer, according to a 2010 review article.
Wood acknowledged these chemicals are everywhere so getting away from them completely is impossible. But said that some lifestyle changes and reading package labels can help.
He suggested that since evidence of health concerns are still emerging, as a precaution it would best if everyone were to follow the guidelines for safer toy, food and beverage consumer plastics.
Check the bottom of containers or plastic for the “recycle” code — those little circular arrow symbols that contain a number inside.
Safe plastics are labeled:
- 1 (PETE)
- 2 (HDPE)
- 4 (LDPE)
- 5 (PP)
Avoid plastics labeled:
- 3 (PVC or vinyl) as it may contain phthalates
- 6 (polystyrene foam)
- 7 (other)
Containers marked with a 7 may contain bisphenol A, also known as BPA, which can attack biological systems in very small doses.
If you'd like more information on plastics, a tip sheet is available for download online from the Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Unit at http://www.aoec.org/PEHSU/documents/bpa_patient_july_8_08.pdf
Lynette Summerill is an award-winning writer and Scuba enthusiast who lives in San Diego with her husband and two beach loving dogs. In addition to writing about cancer-related issues for EmpowHER, her work has been seen in publications internationally.
Urinary Paraben Concentrations and Ovarian Aging among Women from a Fertility Center. Kristen W. Smith, Irene Souter, Irene Dimitriadis, Shelley Ehrlich, Paige L. Williams, Antonia M. Calafat, and Russ Hauser. Environ Health Perspect; published early2 Aug. 2013. DOI:10.1289/ehp.1205350.
Abstract at: http://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/1205350