Six of the phthalates have been banned from use in children's articles, such as toys. Three were permanently banned, and three were subject to an interim ban, pending further study, from use in toys that can be placed in a child's mouth. The law took effect in January of 2009.
Exposures to the phthalates subject to the permanent banBBzP, DnBP and DEHPall went down. DEHP exposures were consistently higher in children than adults, but the gap between the age groups narrowed over time. Data were not available for children younger than 6 years old.
Paradoxically, exposures went up in the phthalates that Congress banned pending further studyDnOP, DiDP and DiNP. They increased by 15 and 25 percent in the first two, but went up nearly 150 percent in DiNP, which industry is using to replace other phthalates like DEHP. DiNP was recently added to the list of chemicals known by the state of California to cause cancer under California's Proposition 65.
The federal ban is not the only force at work in determining phthalate exposures. Both consumers and industry have changed their behavior in response to advocacy by groups like the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics. Since 2004, more than 1,000 companies have agreed to remove certain chemicals from personal care products and report more clearly what chemicals they are using.
Possibly as a consequence of these changes, the study found dramatic changes in exposures to the other two phthalates they measured (DEP and DiBP), neither of which has been subject to federal restrictions. Exposure to DEP fell 42 percent since 2001 and tripled for DiBP.
DEP was widely used in the consumer care products that were the main focus of the early activism. The researchers said industry may be using DiBP as a replacement, both in personal care products and in solvents, adhesives and medication.
|Contact: Laura Kurtzman|
University of California - San Francisco