A new study on a relatively unknown plasticiser (chemical used to soften and strengthen plastics), Di-pentyl phthalate or DPEP, may be more potent in its endocrine disrupting effects than the well known DEHP. DEHP is classified in Europe as Toxic to Reproduction, category 1B, and is on the priority list of most harmful chemicals under REACH, the European Chemicals management law. DEHP is also prohibited in toys.
The research found that prenatal exposure to DPeP at low levels interfered with the male baby rat’s testosterone production and reproductive development. Research on rats and mice isused to predict the potential health effects for humans, and the European system of toxicity classification (which chemicals are cancer-causing, etc) is based on animal research, as well as human clinical and epidemiological research.
The new research is described in terms easily understandable to a lay person here. The webpage also explains what phthalates are, and what is known about the human health effects and how we are exposed to them.
Written on 18 February 2011.