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Chemicals in plastics damage babies' brains and must be banned, expert group says

February 20, 2021. Summarized by summa-bot.

Compression ratio: 20.3%. 2 min read.

Human-made chemicals in the plastics we use are damaging children's brain development and must be banned immediately, according to a group of scientists dedicated to studying and reducing kids' exposure to neurotoxic chemicals and pollutants.

(CNN)Synthetic chemicals called phthalates are damaging children's brain development and therefore must be immediately banned from consumer products, according to a group of scientists and health professionals from Project TENDR.

Project TENDR, which stands for Targeting Environmental Neuro-Development Risks, is a group of volunteer scientists, health professionals and child advocates working to study and reduce children's exposure to neurotoxic chemicals and pollutants.

"What we want to accomplish is to move the public health community, including regulators, toward this goal of elimination of phthalates," said lead author Stephanie Engel.

"I hope that this paper will act as a wake-up call to understand that early life exposure to this class of chemicals is affecting our children," said toxicologist Linda Birnbaum, former director of the National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences, as well as the National Toxicology Program.

"While we are encouraged by continuous research efforts into the science and health of phthalates, we are concerned about the over interpretation of studies that have not established a causal link between phthalates and human adverse health effects," said Eileen Conneely, senior director of the chemical products and technology division of ACC.

The new call to action, published Thursday in the American Journal of Public Health, focuses specifically on the link between phthalate exposure and long-lasting neurodevelopmental harm in fetuses, infants and children.

It's true that "federal regulation of phthalates in the United States has been minimal with several exceptions, including restrictions on 8 phthalates in children's toys and childcare articles," the study said.

"The agency is actively working to ensure all (Toxic Substances Control Act) chemical risk evaluations, including the ongoing evaluations for seven phthalates, follow the science and the law and that any resulting risk management actions protect human health, particularly the health of more vulnerable groups like children and workers, and the environment. "

The paper called for the elimination of the entire class of phthalates from products that lead to the exposure of pregnant women, women of reproductive age, infants and children.

Another reason that the entire class of phthalates should be regulated, BIrnbaum said, is to keep manufacturers from replacing one "bad actor" with another phthalate that hasn't been as thoroughly studied.

Apple, the paper said, has removed "phthalates as a class from almost all products," while other companies like CVS and The Home Depot have reduced the use of phthalates in beauty, personal care products, household products and vinyl flooring.

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