Are Phthalates in Vinyl Flooring Wreaking Havoc On Our Hormones?
A new large-scale human study published today by researchers at the University of Michigan found the phthalate DEHP can impact thyroid hormonal levels in humans. The study examined the levels of phthalates in 1,346 American adults and 329 adolescents and the thyroid levels in their bodies. They found the higher the levels of phthalates, the greater impacts on humans.
What in the world does this mean, you may wonder. The researchers basically found that as the phthalate chemicals increased, certain thyroid levels decreased. This is a big deal because thyroid hormones play an extremely important role in many body functions, from reproduction to normal brain development. The press release from the University of Michigan reported:
Urine samples in the highest 20 percent of exposure to DEHP were associated with as much as a 10 percent decrease in certain thyroid hormones compared to urine samples at the lowest 20 percent of exposure.
“This seems like a subtle difference,” Meeker said, “but if you think about the entire population being exposed at this level you’d see many more thyroid related effects in people.”
This isn’t the first study that has found DEHP may be impacting hormonal levels.
Another New Study: Phthalates Harmful to Baby Boys’ Neurodevelopment
This also isn’t the only study to come out recently that found phthalates are harmful to human health. In a double-whammy to the chemical industry, another new study was also published in Environmental Health Perspectives this past Thursday. Scientists found that prenatal exposure to phthalates may harm the neurodevelopment of infants, particularly baby boys at six months of age. Six months! Oy.
Phthalates Widespread in PVC in Our Nation’s Schools
Over 90% of all phthalates are used in vinyl products, like the vinyl flooring in our nation’s schools. We’re exposed to the chemicals when they off-gass from the flooring and other products, attach to dust, and then we either touch or inhale the dust. A recent report in Germany found high levels of phthalates in the dust of daycare centers. According to a story, “BUND analysed dust samples from 60 childcare centers and found that the samples contained an average of three times the level of plasticisers found in normal households.”
Phthalates Targeted for Elimination Across the Globe
This comes at a time when phthalates and PVC are increasingly coming under fire by government agencies across the world. Phthalates have been banned in children’s toys in the U.S., but continue to be ubiquitous in our schools. Last year, the EPA announced the development of a “chemical action plan” to regulate phthalates. In Europe, phthalates may be regulated or even banned under the EU REACH chemical regulatory program.
The chemical industry is resisting regulation at every step of the way, and continues to argue phthalates and vinyl products are totally safe, just like the tobacco industry did years ago.
Here at CHEJ, we’re increasing our call for a ban on phthalates and vinyl in our schools. Will you join us?