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Are plastics safe?; Some chemicals may affect the reproductive system, growing research suggests. But as consumers seek alternatives, scientists point out that human studies are few.
Los Angeles Times - Los Angeles, Calif.
Subjects: Reproductive system; Plastics; Babies; Public health
Author: Conis, Elena
Date: Sep 10, 2007
Start Page: F.1
Section: Health; Part F; Features Desk
Abstract (Document Summary)

The same year that [Shanna Swan]'s study was published, an expert panel convened by the National Toxicology Program expressed "some concern" that DEHP can affect the reproductive development of infants younger than 1 and baby boys older than 1, "concern" that the chemical could affect the male fetuses of women undergoing intensive medical care using DEHP-containing products, and "serious concern" that critically ill male infants exposed to the plasticizer could suffer damage to their developing reproductive systems.

Still other advocates argue that change is needed at a higher level, on par with the European Union's outright ban on phthalates used in children's toys, which was passed in 2005. "You really can't shop your way out of this," [Jane Houlihan] said. "We're going to need to see change at a much broader level before you really have products that are safe on store shelves."

Many researchers -- including those studying the chemicals in plastics -- are taking a more measured approach. The CDC's [Antonia Calafat] pointed out that far more research is needed before scientists can say with certainty whether traces of plastic found in people are harmful or safe. Swan, at the University of Rochester, concurs. "I definitely don't think it's time for the government to say we all have to stop exposing pregnant women to PVC," Swan said. "But we are at a place where people should be given the choice to avoid it if they want to."

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