CHAMPAIGN, Ill. A new research center based at the University of Illinois will investigate whether regular exposure to bisphenol A (BPA) and phthalates chemicals widely used in plastics and other consumer products can alter infant and adolescent development, cognition or behavior.
A $2 million grant from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences at the National Institutes of Health and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will establish the Children's Environmental Health and Disease Prevention Research Center at Illinois. Four pilot projects will be conducted over the next three years at Illinois and Harvard University.
BPA and phthalates are endocrine disruptors. They mimic natural hormones and thus can interfere with hormone signaling in the body.
BPA is used to make shatterproof plastics and is a component of many containers and bottles, PVC pipes, dental fillings and electronics. Resins made with BPA line metal food and drink containers. Human studies have found BPA in many tissues and fluids, including urine, blood, breast milk and the amniotic fluid of pregnant women.
The National Toxicology Program conducted a review of laboratory studies on animals exposed to BPA in 2008 and reported that while there was little evidence that exposure to BPA was harmful to adults, there was "some concern for effects on the brain, behavior and prostate gland in fetuses, infants and children at current human exposures to bisphenol A."
Phthalates increase the durability, transparency and flexibility of some plastics. They also are used as emulsifiers, lubricants, stabilizers, binders and coatings in cosmetics, building materials, food products, wrappers, textiles, toys and pills. Studies have found that high exposure to some phthalates can alter hormone levels and cause birth defects in rodents.
The four pilot projects will evaluate the effects of BPA and phthalate exposure on infants and adolescents.
|Contact: Diana Yates|
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign