Chemicals In Cosmetics, Toys, And Food Containers Contribute To Rise In Preterm Births

Authored by Zrinka Peters via The Epoch Times (emphasis ZeroHedge)

Plastics are omnipresent. Few could argue that life is not incomparably more convenient because of them. But at what cost has our reliance on such convenience and ease come?

Phthalates, a class of synthetic chemicals often referred to as “plasticizers” because of their common use in making plastic products flexible and bendable, are found in thousands of consumer products, from vinyl flooring to household cleaners and children’s toys. For most of us, our primary exposure to phthalates likely comes through plastic food containers and personal care products such as shampoos and cosmetics.

Research indicates that we shouldn’t take the safety of these everyday products for granted. Phthalate exposure has been linked to a number of adverse health outcomes, including an increased risk of preterm birth, and researchers are urging greater awareness and avoidance of phthalate-containing products.

Phthalates–Under Scrutiny

Phthalates were already under suspicion due to a number of studies that highlighted the role that these chemicals may play in shortening gestational age. Recently The Lancet published a prospective analysis estimating the lifetime cost of prenatal exposure to phthalates in health outcomes, economic productivity, and monetary expenditures. The results are startling. The study authors reported that, in 2018, an estimated 56,595 preterm births could be attributed to prenatal phthalate exposure, at a staggering cost:

“The lifetime costs of preterm birth, inclusive of direct medical care, intellectual quotient loss, and other indirect consequences, was estimated to be US$64,815 per case in 2016 … Other chronic conditions due to phthalates include childhood obesity, adult obesity and diabetes, endometriosis, male factor infertility, and cardiovascular mortality, with total costs nearly $100 billion annually.”

Infants and young children are particularly vulnerable to the harmful effects of phthalate exposure on their developing brains. Project TENDR, an alliance of scientists, health professionals, and advocates working together to protect children from the brain-damaging effects of exposure to toxic chemicals, explains that prenatal exposure to phthalates can affect neurological development in infants and children, resulting in effects that “include Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)-like behaviors, problems with conduct and aggression, as well depression and other internalizing behaviors.”

They also note that “prenatal exposure has been associated with deficits in child IQ, working memory and executive functioning, as well as with problems in emotional regulation.” Multiple studies have found levels of phthalate exposure to be consistently higher among black and Latino populations in the United States than among other racial groups.

Although children are particularly vulnerable, the effects of ongoing phthalate exposure extend to adults as well, being linked to increased risk of obesity, diabetes, endometriosis, birth defects in the male reproductive system, cardiovascular disease, and thyroid irregularities.

It is impossible to live in contemporary society and completely eliminate phthalate exposure. Researchers estimate that the number of Americans with detectable levels of phthalates in their bodies is very close to 100 percent. We can’t eliminate phthalate exposure, but we can reduce it by being more mindful of the food we eat and the products we use.

While phthalate-containing products are all around us, the greatest risk comes from those we eat, absorb through the skin, or inhale. Food items that are prepared or stored in plastic containers, along with the use of personal care products, are the main sources of phthalate exposure for most people. Also, women are generally more exposed than men because of their tendency to use a wider variety of personal care products. Nail polish, hairspray, cleansers, after-shave lotions, and shampoos all commonly contain phthalates.

Identifying Phthalate-Free Products

There are some simple ways to reduce exposure to these harmful chemicals. The Environmental Working Group provides a cosmetics database as well as a Healthy Cleaning Guide, which can help consumers check for potentially harmful ingredients in their personal care or cleaning products, and identify phthalate-free products. Look for personal care products with a “phthalate-free” label. Also, avoid products with the generic term “fragrance” in the ingredient list, as phthalates are commonly used in synthetic fragrances and can be hidden among the undisclosed “fragrance” ingredients.

Reducing the use of plastic wrap and plastic food storage containers made from PVC (with the recycling label #3), and storing food in glass or stainless steel containers instead, is a good start. Avoid heating foods or drinks in plastic containers, as heat increases the release of phthalates into food. Also, limiting consumption of fast food, which has been shown to contain higher concentrations of phthalates, in favor of fresh, minimally processed foods, is a step in the right direction.

Image: Pixabay

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