Sunday, March 1, 2009

About those Phthalates...

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Did You Know...
...there are several diff't. forms of vitamin D? D2 comes from food sources, D3 is considered the natural and most active form of D.  It's created in the skin from the sun's UV rays and then converted into an active form by the liver and kidneys.  D3 has also been linked, in recent research, with a specific gene that releases an antioxidant enzyme to protect DNA from damage.  "If you reduce DNA damage, you reduce the risk of cancer and aging...and demonstrate that vitamin D not only can be used as a therapy for prostate cancer, it can prevent prostate cancer from happening." (Yi-Fen Lee, PhD.)  - health e times, Issue 2 Vol.1 2008

We are back for a new week of knowledge.  Hopefully, this will be a great week for us all. 

I did some searching around for information on phthalates this week.  It really stemmed from a report I heard on my beloved NPR radio station where there was a reporter named Sarah Varney that had done a report on phthalates (just drop the ph and say th....) and she had such interesting information that I turned to my husband and before I even said a word, he said "Is this going to be the post for the week?"  Bless his heart. He knows me. So yes, I made it my mission to find that story again (it's always a pain when you miss the intro to a story on the radio and then you have to search through online archives to find the exact one you're looking for) and try to recreate the interesting points for everyone here.  I am going to do it Q & A-style living out my life-long dream of being an NPR reporter.  (Don't mind the fact that it will be me asking AND answering my own questions and please just let me enjoy the dream...)

Q: What are phthalates?
A: They are a class of widely used industrial chemical compounds.  In the body they can act like hormones.

Q:  What are they used for?
A: They are used as a softener of plastics (many toys contain these), oily substances in perfumes (helps the scent linger longer), additives to hairsprays, lubricants and wood finishers. That new car smell is partly the pungent odor of phthalates evaporating from off the hot plastic dashboard.  You can find them in soft toys, i.e. rubber duckies, bath books and soft vinyl blocks.

Q:  Why be concerned?
A:  These chemicals are part of a group considered to be "endocrine disruptor's".  As stated above, when in the body it can mimic hormones and they can also block the effect of the body's own hormones.  The people most affected by phthalates are baby's that engage in teething, sucking or gumming their toys to either soothe sore gums, explore tastes or just have an afternoon snack! Here are some findings in the recent years: They found that phthalates used while in utero on male rats caused reproductive developmental abnormalities such as undescended testicles, changes in testosterone levels and retained nipples (which I couldn't find out what retained actually means.  I'm just going to guess that it means deformed in some way). By 2003, these studies were widely known and referred to as "phthalate syndrome". 

Q:  Is there anything being done to change this?
A:  If you have some down time and want to look at this great timeline on phthalates then click on the link in the Sarah Varney story.  In it, it says that in 1998 the US Consumer Product Safety Commission requested manufacturers to voluntarily remove phthalates from soft rattles and teethers. In 1999, Europe enacted a temporary ban on phthalates in children's toys and feeding products. In 2002, finally the Center for Disease Control and Prevention measured exposure of the chemical in humans and finds that it is present in 3 out of 4 people surveyed. Also in 2002, German chemical company BASF created a substitute for (can i sub out the full word for "thals"?  My brain is getting tired today...thanks) thals called Hexamoll DINCH -DINCH for short - and it's now being widely used worldwide. *Most recent development* As of Feb. 10, 2009 there was a law put in effect for the US ban on "thals" in children's products through the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (in the mood for some not-so-light reading?  Read up on it here).   

Q: Is DINCH a healthy alternative? 
A:  So as not to make you all completely gloss over and lose the whole audience I will leave the answer to this to another day - come back tomorrow and I will have a new post especially with the DINCH answer for our talking point.  I found some very interesting things about this alternative to "thals".  

Tune in tomorrow for our next EXCITING installment of "Guess that Chemical Compound!!" (Enter the unauthorized use of The Price is Right theme music)

Until then all my best ladies (and gent),  


Music: Fiona Apple "Extraordinay Machine".  Listen to the last of the 4 first, it's the studio version.  The 2 middle ones are good live performances.  The 1st video is peculiar @ times and if you can, I'd avoid it.  I didn't care much for it.  Picture provided by 123rf


Renée aka Mekhismom said...

You have some great info here. Thank you for sharing!

Mocha Dad said...

I love Fiona Apple. I'll stick with the studio version of the song.

Mammatalk said...

Great info. Keep it up!

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