Phthalates in Food Packaging, Consumer Products, and Indoor Environments

  • Kathryn M. Rodgers
  • Ruthann A. RudelEmail author
  • Allan C. Just
Part of the Molecular and Integrative Toxicology book series (MOLECUL)


Phthalates are a diverse group of chemicals, including five with production volumes of over 1 million pounds per year in the United States (U.S.). They are used as plasticizers in a variety of plastics including polyvinyl chloride (PVC), medical devices (e.g., intravenous bags and tubing), food contact materials (FCMs), toys, and household goods, and as solvents in fragranced personal care and household products. Although not all phthalates have been evaluated for their toxic effects, many that are in widespread use have displayed endocrine disrupting properties on the developing reproductive system, especially in males, in laboratory, animal, and human studies. Widespread exposure to phthalates has been documented in the U.S. and in European countries, with some examples of unusually high exposures in certain populations, such as neonates with intravenous interventions in hospital settings. For the majority of the population, the primary route of exposure to the endocrine disrupting phthalates produced in the highest volume, bis(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP) and diisononyl phthalate (DINP), is through diet. DEHP is used in food packaging, and also has been found to contaminate food sources directly. Some newer phthalates that have been introduced as alternatives to phthalates with known health concerns are also endocrine disruptors, while others have not been evaluated. Regulatory agencies are considering ways to define phthalates and assess their risk as a group based on chemical structure.


Phthalates Testosterone Male reproduction Female reproduction Reproductive toxicity Sperm count Plastics Vinyl Polyvinyl chloride PVC Food Food packaging Food contact material Consumer products Children’s toys Medical equipment Neonatal intensive care unit Intravenous bags DEP DBP DnBP DiBP BBzP DEHP DINP 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag London 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kathryn M. Rodgers
    • 1
  • Ruthann A. Rudel
    • 1
    Email author
  • Allan C. Just
    • 2
  1. 1.Silent Spring InstituteNewtonUSA
  2. 2.Department of Environmental HealthHarvard School of Public HealthBostonUSA

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