Plastic Damages Children's Brains

We all know plastic is bad for the environment. But did you know that a group of chemicals added to plastic can also impact human health, especially children’s brains. They’re called phthalates.

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Phthalates are found in hundreds of plastic products like rubber duckies, beach balls, plastic raincoats, plastic food containers (including the prepackaged foods in markets). They act as carriers for fragrances in products like laundry detergents, fabric softeners, soaps and shampoos as well as your favorite cologne or perfume. Phthalates are also in cosmetics. They keep your mascara from running, stop your nail polish from chipping and help perfume linger.

Read more about chemical pollution in the home

Scientists have shown that they’re a probable human carcinogen as well as endocrine disruptors – gender-bender chemicals that make girls develop earlier and reduce testosterone levels in boys. They affect behavior too. One study from Environmental Health Perspectives found that prenatal exposure to phthalates caused an increase in ADHD behavior in children aged 4-9.

Health Care Without Harm, an umbrella organization of dozens of environmental and health groups, lab-tested 72 cosmetics by major brands such as Revlon, Calvin Klein, Christian Dior and Procter & Gamble and found phthalates in 52 of their products. The cosmetics companies insist that the small amounts they use are completely harmless.

But it’s impossible to know how much you’re being exposed to because you’ll never see the word phthalate listed on a label. Phthalates, along with many other chemicals, do not have to be named on the label because of a loophole in legislation designed to protect the commercial or “trade secrets” of manufacturers.

Secret ingredients are often listed under the catch phrase “other,” or “inert,” for example, and could be extremely hazardous to your health. Vinyl chloride used to be considered “inert” and withheld from labeling until an epidemic of cancers spread through the plants using VC in the aerosols used in beauty parlors in the late 1960s. Also, if you see the word “parfum” know this word is an FDA-approved catch-all word that is synonymous with hidden phthalates.

A new study from a team of Columbia University and CDC researchers showed that when pregnant women were exposed to high levels of phthalates, their babies had lower IQ scores when they were tested in school…about six points lower than the children who had low level exposure in the womb.

Read more about toxic chemicals that could be lowering your child's IQ

Bottom line: avoid fragrances whenever possible, and use glass or metal containers instead of plastic.

Listen to the full GD Radio Show:

Written by Beth Greer for The Green Divas.


Image: Dean Wissing

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By The Green Divas| March 15, 2015
Categories:  Nest

About the Author

The Green Divas

The Green Divas

The Green Divas share low-stress ways to live a deeper shade of green through a weekly radio show, podcasts, videos and blog posts. Working with talented partners and credible sources like myEARTH360 the Green Divas produce content on a variety of topics relating to a healthy green lifestyle. Visit The Green Divas website to learn more, and check out The Green Divas on Facebook, Twitter & Google+ too!

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