In an article published September 17, 2014 in The Guardian journalist Amy Westervelt reports on a new study linking phthalate exposure to childhood asthma (Whyatt et al. 2014). For the study, researchers from Columbia University, U.S., analyzed data of 300 mother-child pairs, following children from the fetus to school age. They found children exposed prenatally to high concentrations of benzyl butyl phthalate (BBP, CAS  85-68-7), di-n-butyl phthalate (DnBP, CAS 84-74-2), di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP, CAS 117-81-7) and diethyl phthalate (DEP, CAS 84-66-2) to have a 70 percent risk increase of developing asthma between ages 5 and 12. Phthalate levels in women whose children developed asthma was 5 to 13 times higher than in the control group. All these phthalates are used in food contact materials in Europe and as indirect food additives in the U.S.. Robin Whyatt, researcher at Columbia University, U.S., points out in the article that the study is focused on a particular cohort already known for high incidences of asthma consisting exclusively of African American and Dominican women in the city of New York, which limits the possibility of extrapolating the findings. However, a Swedish study carried out by Carl Bornehag may be able to support the findings. Until phthalates are regulated in adult consumer products in the U.S., Whyatt recommends that consumers should try to avoid exposure.

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Amy Westervelt (September 17, 2014). “Some household plastics could increase risk of childhood asthma, study finds.The Guardian.


Whyatt, R.M. et al. (2014). “Asthma in inner-city children at 5-11 years of age and prenatal exposure to phthalates: The Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health Cohort.” Environmental Health Perspectives (published online September 17, 2014).