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New Study: Policy Change, Consumer Pressure Cut Exposure to Class of Toxic Chemicals

Washington, DC – A new study released today in Environmental Health Perspectives documents that Americans’ exposure to a class of toxic chemicals, called phthalates, has dropped in part due to a 2008 law passed by Congress. Consumer campaigns focused on the chemicals’ widespread use in cosmetics also likely contributed to the drop. In the meantime, exposure to unregulated phthalates, with unclear health effects, has risen.

The class of chemicals studied are known as phthalates. They are found in most soft vinyl (PVC) products, building materials, raincoats and cosmetics. A 2008 law, banned some phthalates from children’s products because of their disruptive effects on human hormones. The chemicals remain widely used in other products and appear on the Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families list of Hazardous 100+ toxic chemicals. The study is available today at Environmental Health Perspectives.

Andy Igrejas, director of Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families released this statement in response to the report:

“This study shows that policy change can make a difference when it comes to reducing exposure to toxic chemicals. It was just a few years ago when Congress targeted a group of known toxic chemicals in children’s products and the levels are already declining.

The downside of the study is that exposure to other unregulated phthalates has gone up in recent years and the health effects of some of those chemicals are poorly understood. The ultimate solution to that problem is to require that all chemicals have basic health and safety information as a condition for getting on the market. The current proposal to reform chemical policy in Congress, the Chemical Safety Improvement Act, falls short in requiring important health and safety information on toxic chemicals.”