Thursday, June 3, 2010

Are Phthalates Safe or Unsafe?

Report By 60 Minutes On Phthalates

I have provided a video from the news show on this blog in the right sidebar for viewing, and it is attempting to show both sides of the argument of phthalates in our everyday products we use and our environment. Phthalates help fragrances last longer, help extend colors and this is not isolated to cosmetics or perfumes, but new car smell and air fresheners and many other items we are exposed to on a daily basis. I have posted the video in this article also, but for RSS feed and email delivery you may need to go directly to my blog to view this report. I have provided a summary below of this 13 minute expose!

Do We Have All The Facts?

Phthalates come under scrutiny by a Dr. Swan who performed a narrow single study on infants and mothers of infants. Due to her single study, Congress passed a law last year banning certain phthalates in childrens' toys.

What we do know is that based on supposition, Dr. Swan believes phthalates are linked to de-masculinization of boys. And of course, phthalates are in just about everything we use or consume in our daily lives including foods we eat, air we breathe and the water we drink.

The problem with placing so much weight on a single study, it leads to bias and goes to and supports the argument of inconclusive research yet again, since there were also no alternate studies showing exposure to other chemicals as being the possible cause of some of these abnormalities.

Plus, why place the ban of phthalates on toys only? If the study was geared toward infants and pregnant mothers, then wouldn't they want to be looking at some other exposure long before the child gets their first toy? Seems like an over zealous insincere gesture by congress, which only served to harm the toy manufacturers financially, without really solving anything.

Animal Studies Once Again

When we explore further, another scientist Dr. Richard Sharp, the leading phthalates researcher in the world, performed studies on pregnant rats by feeding or injecting them with phthalates. And of course the studies showed the abnormalities similar to Dr. Swan's findings.

However, when tested on pregnant Marmoset Monkey's in similar fashion, all of their babies were normal. And as was pointed out by 60 minutes, we are more closely related to primates and not rats so why don't we lean toward the results of the monkey study as being the more accurate? Great question....and the other I always have, what were the chemical doses? Which I already know since it is typically in much higher levels than what a person is exposed to in their everyday lives. Yet the monkeys' offspring were still normal...a very telling fact and very important information since it goes to credibility of the study and proof of or lack of harm.

Dr. Swan and Dr. Sharp Both Don't Know

When 60 minutes presses Dr. Swan on her findings, she could not factually state that phthalates actually cause the deformities we are seeing. Even though she speaks with uncertainty, she stands behind her data even though the studies are small and preliminary. She can only state there is a possibility of harm, but that her studies are inconclusive and need confirmation by other supportive data. Yet congress enacted a law based purely on supposition!

This fact alone is scary for me, that Congress would have a knee jerk reaction to unsubstantiated data and override the FDA and the Consumer Product Safety Commission where they conducted repeated tests of products containing phthalates, including having volunteers chew directly on the toys to see if phthalates leaked from them. The EPA isn't even thoroughly convinced as to any probability they are a danger to the public since the current human studies are in their infancy of research data provided.

Dr. Sharp comes right out and states he doesn't know if phthalates are the cause of these deformities we are seeing occur in newborns. But does conclude that pregnant women should avoid as many environmental chemicals as they can entirely, such as painting a room, using pesticides, or cleaning a bathroom. But he does state, that we should definitely lean toward the study on the monkeys as a way to differentiate between the one on rats and the one on monkeys since we are more closely related to primates. And he would not conclusively state, phthalates are the cause of deformities in babies born to mothers which may have been exposed to them during their pregnancy.

Video Below:

How Concerned Are You?

After viewing this video are you concerned?

Do you think this is just another study which causes undue paranoia whereby creating unnecessary government control of small businesses?

Based on the miniscule evidence and the fact that phthalates are in just about everything we use, can we say with all certainty that toys should have been targeted, forcing manufacturers such a hardship that testing is now mandated despite the lack of any real valid proof. And of course this added expense is simply passed onto the consumer as we all know!

Where will they look next? Are we heading toward being over regulated? Is Congress out of control as it pertains to passing laws without conclusive research on what may or may not be actually harmful? Did congress jump the gun on this one? Do they even look at "smoking" (gun) as an example? Yet these companies continue unchecked with supplying cigarettes which are proven toxins to humans. What about second hand smoke to children?

As 60 minutes points out "this was good intentions run amok!" And I tend to agree!

What say you?

Does this mean that I support the use of phthalates? Not when it comes to cosmetics and personal care products because I think they are an additive unnecessary for use. And I do believe, when possible, we should limit our exposure to environmental toxins. But I also think we need to gain perspective in practical terms on whether or not phthalates should be so demonized as a primary concern in studies that are not only conflicting, but caused Congress to act prematurely in my opinion, based on a bias of one doctors' study. I want all the data and I want it conclusive! But that's just me.

With all of this said, the American Council of Science takes issue with "60 Minutes" as not clearly relaying the facts showing phthalate safety thoroughly enough. This article is their response to the expose. Click Here!

For more about phthalates Click on The American Chemistry Council for more research and data including a short video of explanation on phthalates.

Have a great weekend!


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