“Birth Defect Study Casts Doubt on Phthalate Fears”

by Walter Olson on October 4, 2009

What, you mean the phthalate provisions in CPSIA might have been an overreaction? [Scientific American, July]

More: “Why It’s Impacting Textile Screen Printing” [Ed Branigan, International Coatings Blog]

{ 2 comments }

1 Dr. T 10.04.09 at 7:07 pm

The phthalate scare of today is even more baseless than the saccharine scare a generation ago. Both are based on non-science.

Since 1960 or so we’ve been performing a long-running, multi-center, multi-nation phthalate toxicity study on millions of primates of all ages and both sexes. Pregnant primates were included in the study. These primates were hooked up to intravenous lines and received at least half a liter of fluid that had been stored in plastic bags made with phthalates. The fluids were stored in the bags for days to years. After five decades of primate study, there is no evidence of illnesses or cancers due to phthalates. Just who were these primates? People who received transfusions of red blood cells, plasma, or platelets.

Also, over that same time period, people unknowingly breathed phthalate fumes dozens or hundreds of times. The greatest exposures were in warmer regions. What was the exposure: getting into cars that had been outside in the sun on a warm day. The heat causes evaporation of phthalates from the plastics inside the cars. (Phthalate vapors often create a light gray film on the insides of windshields and windows.) Everyone who got into a hot car inhaled phthalate fumes. After 50 years of this, there is no evidence of illnesses or cancers due to phthalates.

Anther ongoing experiment with phthalates involves putting foods into plastic bags for hours or days, then consuming the food. Again, phthalates did not harm anyone.

There is nothing about phthalates that make them harmful. They don’t damage your cells. They don’t mutate DNA. They’re like the vast majority of chemicals: harmless in small quantities.

2 ECM 10.04.09 at 8:46 pm

60 Minutes ran another scare-type story tonight, this one on coal ash which, apparently, will kill everyone in the world. Oddly (no, not really) they failed to demonstrate that even a single person had gotten ill from exposure to it, despite all the scary-sounding copy.

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