Environmental connections to public health >>
Phthalates, phthalates everywhere
National Research Council tells EPA: cumulative risk assessment of phthalates and other toxic chemicals is urgently needed A real victory for both human and environmental health has been achieved right at the end of the year, as the National Research Council (NRC) directed EPA to examine the combined risks of exposure to phthalates, a family of toxic chemicals that have been linked to allergies and asthma, infertility, reduced testosterone concentrations, and, most worrisome, abnormal development of reproductive system in baby boys. Phthalates are used in a wide variety of consumer products such as fragrances, cosmetics and shampoos, medical devices, soft toys that children and pets play with and often chew, building and home decorating materials, and even children's clothing. Because of health concerns associated with phthalates, several of them have been restricted in the European Union and the US; yet, a parent looking for a phthalate-free baby powder or a soft toy may not know what to buy, since manufacturers frequently don't disclose all ingredients in consumer products. Meanwhile, many different phthalates contaminate the bodies of most Americans, including children developing in the womb, since phthalate exposures are nearly ubiquitous.