Plastic products have become common, comfortable, taken-for-granted products in our lives.
From the microwave fit containers to the convenient lunch pack to disposable cups and plates and cutlery and mostly to any sort of packaging, plastic is everywhere.
And while some voices come to warn of the potential health risks that some substances found in plastic pose, little is done to prevent the never-tiring plastic industry from introducing new substances that may well beat the previous in terms of health risks.
A scientific team from New York University Medical Center, led by Leonardo Trasande analyzed the health risks of two plastic components, part of the phthalates group. Previously, dr. Trasande had proved that the DEHP or di-2-ethylhexyl, also found in plastic products, was linked to high blood pressure.
The two phthalates under scrutiny are di-isononyl phthalate and di-isodecyl phthalate, DINP and DIDP. They were introduced in plastic product composition after Dr. Trasande managed to usher DEHP.
Now, Dr. Trasande’s team was looking at the effects of DINP and DIDP on teenagers and children. The results of the study from the New York University Medical Center are published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.
Dr. Trasande declared:
“More recently, DEHP has been replace with DIDP and DINP, such that you see substantial drop-offs over the past decades in the levels of urine metabolites with these chemicals. We decided to reexamine the relationship between phthalate exposures and insulin resistance and blood pressure in children and adolescents”.
To accomplish their goal, the team pooled 356 participants in the age group between 12 and 19 years old. The researchers analyzed urine samples, blood samples, blood pressure and blood glucose levels.
Phthalate levels were measured, particularly DIDP and DINP and it was found that for the participants which presented the highest concentrations of DIDP and DINP insulin resistance was also high.
By comparison, only one participant in four had high insulin resistance without exhibiting the high concentrations of DIDP and DINP. Alongside dietary guidelines and healthy exercising, environmental chemicals also play a role in the epidemic of diabetes or high blood pressure. Plastic phthalates are part of these environmental chemicals.
The study conducted by Dr. Trasande and his team is intended to raise awareness and hopefully change the process through which the EPA and the FDA are contributing to the widespread usage of DIDP and DINP phthalates, mostly related to outdated policies. EPA’s regulatory framework has been set in place in 1976, without any amendments since.
Dr. Trasande commented:
“We’re in a situation where chemicals are innocent until proven guilty, and we have a situation as researchers where we have to catch up as dangerous and natural experiment ensues where people are exposed to these chemicals in their daily lives.”
We can eliminate or reduce the health risk posed by phthalates DIDP and DINP by ceasing to heat food in plastic containers, using plastic wrap for food wrapping. Also, avoid washing plastic dishes in the dishwasher.
If we insist on buying plastic containers, we should at least be aware that numbers 3,6,7 are indicative of phthalates being used in the plastic fabrication.
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