also called Bis(2ethylhexyl)phthalate or di(2ethylhexyl)phthalate
also called Di-n-butyl phthalate
Potential health effects in humans and animals:
known to cause liver cancer in rats and mice and is classified by
the Federal government as a probable human carcinogen.
DBP is not classified as a carcinogen, but it does cause mutations
in animal studies which means it may have a cancer risk.
Both DEHP and DBP exhibit endocrine-disrupting properties in laboratory
studies. In animals, both DEHP and DBP are toxic to the liver, kidneys,
testes and nervous system and cause birth defects, still births
and developmental effects, including decreased testicular weight
and lower sperm production in males exposed in the womb.
esters or phthalates, which are similar in appearance to cooking
oil, are added to hard polyvinyl chloride (PVC) to make it soft
and flexible. They are used to soften PVC plastic in products such
as vinyl upholstery, tablecloths, shower curtains, toys, raincoats,
floor tiles, car interiors, food containers and wrappers, and medical
supplies. They are commonly used in cosmetics and sometimes as coatings
on pills. Phthalates are also used as insulators in electrical equipment,
as a replacement for PCBs.
have become so ubiquitous in the environment that levels of DEHP
in Moyers' blood test were measured in parts per million. All the
other chemicals were in parts per billion or parts per trillion.
2000, an expert panel of the Center for the Evaluation of Risks
to Human Reproduction at the National Institute of Environmental
Health Sciences expressed concern "that exposure of pregnant women
to current estimated adult exposure levels of DEHP might adversely
affect the development of their offspring." The panel also expressed
concern that "if infants and toddlers are exposed to levels of DEHP
substantially higher than adults, adverse effects might occur in
the developing male reproductive tract."
dozens of phthalates, those of greatest concern are the following:
phthalate or DEHP used in plastic food packaging, medical
bags for blood and intravenous solutions, and children's toys, teethers,
and pacifiers. In 1986, the EPA categorized DEHP as a "probable
human carcinogen," following the lead of the National Toxicology
Program. DEHP is one of the most widely used phthalates and also
the most toxic. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, also
in 1986, asked manufacturers to voluntarily remove or reduce concentrations
of DEHP in toys. The use of DEHP in intravenous medical bags, however,
continues amid dueling scientific theories on its health hazards
phthalate or DINP used as a replacement for DEHP in children's
toys, pacifiers and teethers; exposures to young children are from
chewing or mouthing these products. In 1998, the Consumer Product
Safety Commission called for a voluntary ban on DINP in toys. In
June 2000, a coalition of public interest groups released results
of independent testing which found that U.S.-made bath and squeeze
toys still contained high amounts of phthalates. Imported teethers
contained as much as 55 percent phthalates by weight.
Phthalate or DBP is used extensively in perfumes, nail polishes,
lotions and hair sprays, as well as wood stains and varnishes. DBP
easily penetrates the skin. High levels of exposure have been found
in women of reproductive age. DBP is now known to cause a broad
range of birth defects and lifelong reproductive impairment in male
laboratory animals exposed in-utero and shortly after birth.
scientific studies have indicated that phthalates can leak from
consumer products and can be ingested a fact undisputed by
the American Chemistry Council. Phthalates in high doses are known
to cause damage to the brain, liver, kidney and reproductive organs
in laboratory animals. However, there is no consensus on the extent
of cancer or other health threats to humans. Phthalates in low doses
are suspected of being hormone disrupters, too, but because of the
inadequacies of available research, there is continuing disagreement
over whether phthalates cause reproductive havoc.
of phthalates in infant's and children's toys is particularly controversial.
European and other foreign countries have individually imposed bans
on certain types of phthalates in children's toys, but the United
States has no mandatory prohibitions. Unlike the U.S., many of these
governments have embraced the "precautionary principle," which advocates
safeguarding of public health and the environment even amidst some
- National Toxicology Program, 9th Report on Carcinogens
Health Perspectives Volume 108, Number 10, October 2000 - Levels
of Seven Urinary Phthalate Metabolites in a Human Reference Population
Working Group - Beauty Secrets
Environmental Trust - Toxic Toys
The Use of Di-2-Ethyhexyl Phthalate in PVC Medical Devices: Exposure,
Toxicity and Alternatives Heed the Warnings
Full list of sources available via e-mail
In June 2000, a coalition of public interest groups released results of independent testing which found that U.S.-made bath and squeeze toys still contained high amounts of phthalate.