The health hazards of plastics are well-known. Phthalates are certain compounds used in plastic that can cause harm. We will learn about phthalates and health issues in the article below. Read on…
Plastic has become a necessity and an important compound in all sectors of manufacturing and industries. We know about the many hazards of plastic. But what about plastic makes it harmful to health? Why is plastic pollution is the most alarming issue present today? It is because of the compounds and other chemicals, that pose risks even after the breaking down of plastic. Plastic is made of many chemical compounds and one of them is phthalates. They are defined as esters of phthalic acid, that are used as substances that give plastic their properties and enhance flexibility, transparency and longevity, etc. They can also be termed as dialkyl or alkyl aryl esters of 1,2-benzenedicarboxylic acid. These are primarily used in plastics for many years, due to their many beneficial characteristics for substance.
Phthalates are not only used in plastic but in many other products, like cosmetics, adhesives, perfumes, detergents, vinyl, food packaging, wall papers, etc. Some of their commercial uses also include insecticides, solvents, bags, construction material, etc. They sure give us the many benefits by the number of products they are used in. But along with the many benefits, phthalates also have been known for causing damage to the human body. The following are some facts and information on how these compounds can give rise to various health issues in the human body.
Health Issues Due to Phthalates Exposure
There are many studies that have proved the role of phthalates affecting the human body in many ways. With the help of tests, it has been proven that they damage to the lungs, kidneys, liver and reproductive system in males. The toxicity level of these compounds, is the main reason and also the element for study and research. The exposure is mostly through the environment through many means, as they are released even after the plastic break down.
Air, food, water are the most common streams for exposure. The use of many products that use this chemical compound as an ingredient, can pose risks to health. For example, women using cosmetic and perfumes, that have a good concentration of phthalates, can get affected by it. Paint and wall paper fumes, foods that are packed in plastics that contains phthalate in high levels. Even children are at risk, in case they chew or mouth toys made of plastic. There is also more exposure that can happen with patients, getting treatment, with the use of tubes, containers and other material and medical devices that can have phthalates in the base substance.
Health Issues Caused by Phthalates
It is not very evident about the direct affect of phthalates on the human body, but as per the studies and research, certain issues could be chalked down. Most of them are based on studies that were conducted with their high exposure
- Studies pointed out that phthalates could affect the male reproductive development. Certain types like dibutyl phthalate (DBP) and diethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP), when exposed at utero levels, triggered noticeable changes in the sexual characteristics of males. DEHP is particularly known to affect the steroli cells that are responsible for sperm development. Exposure of DECP to these cells during the developmental stages, caused reproductive issues in later life, like low sperm count.
- They were also found to affect the quality of semen in males. They also affected the sperm DNA.
- Studies prove its side effects on young pregnant females, that indirectly affected fetal development, specially the genital development of the male fetus.
- A study also proved a possible link between exposure of phthalates and trends in early puberty in girls. Scientists observed that there was premature breast development in young girls, due to the possible exposure to phthalates.
- They are also known to disturb the endocrine system, that are responsible for hormonal production. With a study that was conducted on female animals, it was observed that phthalates could increase the risk of miscarriage, still birth and premature birth.
- These compounds have also been found to trigger and be the cause of liver cancer.
- Some other health issues are: high resistance to insulin that can lead to diabetes, asthma, thyroid problems and skin allergies.
Phthalates are hence most harmful to the human body. Research and tests like blood and urine tests, detected certain amounts of phthalates in the human body. Exposure can happen in any form and good care must be taken to prevent the usage of substances that may bring exposure. Special care must be taken by young women, pregnant women and nursing mothers. Small children too must take preventive measure to protect them from the hazards of phthalates. Most of the health organizations are working on effective measures that can control the exposure, and also find safe alternatives for phthalates as a compound.