A new study from NYU Langone shows that daily exposure to common chemicals known as phthalates in items like food storage containers, shampoo, makeup, perfume, and toys could contribute to around 100,000 premature deaths a year among Americans aged 55–64.
The NYU study found that people with the highest levels of phthalates had a greater risk of death, especially from cardiovascular disease. This study joins the growing body of research on the various developmental, reproductive, neurological, and physical harms caused by over-exposure to plastics and other synthetic chemicals.
The study also highlights a second-order effect of these premature deaths: A yearly loss of $40–$47 billion in economic productivity.
Previous Links to Health Problems
Previous studies had already shown that exposure to phthalates can contribute to multiple medical conditions. In particular, phthalates are known as “hormone disruptors” because they disrupt the endocrine system, the body’s hormone production center.
The build-up of phthalates in the body has been linked to developmental issues in baby boys, reproductive problems, and reduced testosterone levels in adult males. Phthalates have also been linked to obesity, asthma, cardiovascular issues, and cancer.
The Extent of the Risks Is Unknown
As the study authors note, this is but a single study. More research is needed both to identify the full range of risk factors and to definitively link phthalates and other chemicals like BPA to these various harms.
In the meantime, if you are concerned about your family’s health and safety, you can actively avoid products that contain phthalates. However, not all labels will state clearly “contains phthalates.”
As extra precautions to reduce the risk of exposing yourself and your family to these chemicals, you can.
- Avoid PVC or vinyl products, especially highly flexible items.
- Avoid air fresheners and all plastics labeled as No. 3, No. 6, and No. 7.
- Avoid scented personal care products, deodorants, shampoos, hand soaps, lotions, detergents, and scented household cleaning supplies.
- Only use “microwave safe” and “dishwasher safe” plastic food containers.
- Store food in glass, stainless steel, or ceramic containers.
- Purchase fresh or frozen produce instead of canned goods.
- Practice good hand-washing hygiene to remove chemicals.
Protecting Injury Victims
There is a long history of lawsuits against companies that freely use hazardous chemicals or the chemical producers themselves. There will surely be more chemical exposure lawsuits in the future as scientists continue to link common household chemicals to various birth defects, developmental problems, neurological conditions, and physical injuries.
Although building and prosecuting these claims is complicated, millions of individuals and families have been able to get compensation for the injuries these chemicals have caused because they sought the help of a personal injury attorney. If you believe you’ve been injured or suffered harms because of a company’s negligent use of chemicals, please call us!