A new peer-reviewed article links phthalates, a group of neurotoxic chemicals found in hundreds of consumer products including toys, floor coverings and food packaging, to long-lasting neurodevelopmental harm in fetuses, infants and children.
The study, “Neurotoxicity of Ortho-Phthalates: Recommendations for Critical Policy Reforms to Protect Brain Development in Children,” was published Feb. 18 in the American Journal of Public Health.
Project TENDR, which stands for Targeting Environmental Neuro-Development Risks, is a collaboration of leading scientists, health professionals and environmental advocates who came together over growing scientific evidence linking toxic environmental chemicals to neurodevelopmental disorders.
According to the study, data from longitudinal birth cohort studies conducted over the last decade have shown associations between prenatal exposure to phthalates and attention deficit disorder, hyperactivity, behavior problems and adverse cognitive development including lower IQ, poorer, psychomotor development and impaired social communication.
To protect child brain development, Project TENDR is calling for the removal of phthalates from consumer products that contribute to exposure of pregnant women, women of reproductive age, infants and children.
The study’s lead author, Stephanie Engel, professor of epidemiology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Gillings School of Global Public Health, told CNN:
“What we want to accomplish is to move the public health community, including regulators, toward this goal of elimination of phthalates. We have enough evidence right now to be concerned about the impact of these chemicals on a child’s risk of attention, learning and behavioral disorders.”
Responding to the study, Eileen Conneely, senior director of the chemical products and technology division of the American Chemistry Council, told CNN that while encouraged by continuous research efforts into the science and health of phthalates, “we believe that studies acknowledging a causal link between phthalates and human adverse health effects have been overinterpreted.”