Diisononyl Phthalate (DINP) was added to California's ever-growing Proposition 65 list of known carcinogens late last year. However, Elissa Sterry, VP for ExxonMobil s Intermediates Global Business, told the Consumer Products Safety Commission that the rodent studies upon which this decision was based were essentially meaningless. She says, the relevant mechanisms of cancer development are not the same in rodents and humans and, indeed, that the firm has data from primate studies that suggest lack of a cancer link.
She goes on to point out that the CPSC s Federal Hazardous Substances Act even prohibits applying animal studies to decisions if the animal studies are not relevant to humans. And then, to add further support against the decision to add DINP to the Proposition 65 list, she references a report from the European Chemicals Agency that found no need for further restrictions of DINP.
Currently, DINP remains on a list of three phthalates under interim restriction while the Chronic Hazard Advisory Panel (CHAP) further investigates phthalates. While DINP is being investigated, alternative plasticizers are being used. However, Sperry cautions that the alternatives have not gone through the same rigorous safety investigations that DINP has.
Sperry also suggests that there are problems with information coming into or out of CHAP, which was originally created to study the effects on children s health of phthalates.
ACSH s Elizabeth Whelan says, We at ACSH have been talking about the safety of phthalates since we conducted a Blue Ribbon Panel Report on the effect of two phthalate plasticizers DEHP and DINP - used in medical devices and toys. The scientific evaluation, led by former surgeon general C. Everett Koop, found that DEHP is not harmful to exposed people and DINP used in children s products is safe for its intended use. Furthermore, rodent studies are poor predictors of biological effects in humans. However, consumers act based on fear and attention-grabbing headlines, and the fact that DINP is on the Prop 65 list may have negative consequences. We at ACSH are in complete agreement with the statement issued by ExxonMobil and we must do more to educate people as to the safety of phthalates.