DINP and DIDP, two chemicals used in plastics have been associated with a significant health risk in children.
About 10 years ago di-isononyl phthalate (DINP) and di-isodecyl phthalate (DIDP) have been introduced in the production process of various plastic containers that we come across every single day. They were meant to be a safe alternative to another phthalate, di-2-ethylhexyl phlatate (DEHP), which was massively used in plastics production back then, that was discovered to determine the people who used the plastic containers to develop high blood pressure.
The DEHP research was led by NYU Medical Center Professor, Dr. Leonardo Trasande and he has recently decided to take a closer look at the two replacements that have been introduced by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Dr. Trasande and his research team have first conducted a study on data that they have collected from 365 subjects aged 12 to 19. They measured DINP and DIDP levels in the subjects’ urine and their level of insulin resistance.
After analyzing the data, they were able to establish quite a strong link between high phthalate levels and insulin resistance, that could predispose people to diabetes. Their initial study was published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.
Then, Dr. Trasande decided to look even further, as they analyzed the data from 1,329 subjects, aged 8 to 19. They measured their DINP and DIDP levels and their blood pressure and the data suggests that the higher the phthalate level, the higher the blood pressure gets to be. Their second study has recently been published in the scientific journal Hypertension.
“In general, this problem has ensued for 40 years, I think we’re just more aware of it in seeing it acutely in the context of that research is catching up to document potential health consequences of these chemicals,” said the leader of both studies, Dr. Trasande.
For the moment, the first obvious step is that scientists conduct further research on the effects that DINP and DIDP have on the helth of both children and adults. Furthermore, it is high time that the rest of the additives that we come across on a daily basis be put to the test, so that even ever alternatives may be developed for the ones that are in use today.
While DINP and DIDP are linked to this series of health risks, they are still a much safer option than their predecessor, DEHP. Therefore a progress has clearly been established on the matter. However, scientific and technological advances might be able to supply an even better version, if they understand the flaws of the current substances and the risks that they imply.
For the time being, concerned parents could employ a series of safety measures, in order to limit the exposure of their children. Firstly, all plastic-based food containers need to be put straight into the dish washer. Washing them by hand should be avoided as much as possible.
Also, plastic foil used to cover and pack food could be replaced by paper wrapping. There is also the option of aluminum foil, but there is data that has linked aluminum exposure to increased risk for Alzheimer’s. Therefore, paper packaging seems to be the safest option.
Finally, all plastic containers that include the numbers 3,6 or 7 in the recycling information on their labels should be avoided as best as possible. The numbers indicate that DINP and DIDP were used in the production of the container.
It remains to be seen if the authorities will take strong measures in regards to the further usage of the two chemical compound, in accordance to the results of the upcoming research conducted on the effects that they have on human health.
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