Phthalates given a reprieve by the EU surprisingly, given European devotion to the Precautionary Principle

By ACSH Staff — Jul 02, 2014
Denmark s political agenda against endocrine disrupting phthalates brought to a halt by the authorities of the EU. Wiser heads prevail, unusual over there, but there is no solid evidence that phthalate plasticizers are harmful.

Plastics! Nothing to Fear...In a surprisingly pro-science stance, the European Commission has swatted away a rebellion by the Danish environmental authorities to race ahead of the science and institute a ban on 4 types of phthalates. These plasticizer chemicals have been targeted by many environmental and consumer NGOs over the past 15 years or so, for allegedly being endocrine disruptors and contributing to every known human ailment, from obesity to infertility to cancer to autism to global warming.

ACSH has assessed the scientific basis for these alarmist scares repeatedly, beginning with our classic tome on two of the most common and most targeted phthalates, DINP (found most typically in kids toys, e.g. rubber duckies) and DEHP (found in medical devices such as IV bags and tubing). Our Blue-Ribbon Panel report was issued in 2000 after several meetings among 17 world-renowned experts on toxicology, cancer, risk assessment, and related fields, chaired by former Surgeon General Dr. C. Everett Koop (recently deceased at age 96). The panel s finding was that the 2 chemicals posed no health threat at common environmental exposures.

Since those early days of the 21st century, no valid evidence has shown significant adverse effects from any phthalate chemical. Nonetheless, the Danes decided in 2012 to jump ahead of the EU deliberations and ban 4 phthalates (DEHP was one) based upon the science-free endocrine disruptor or low-dose theory; the Environment Minister also cited effects on rat cancer.

ACSH s Dr. Gil Ross had this comment: Generally, trying to reverse a precautionary ban on a chemical in the EU would be an uphill battle, to say the least. But sticking to official policy, the EU Commission vetoed the Danish proposed ban, giving another opportunity for science to weigh in on the rationale for such a ban of safe and useful chemicals. Not that that s any guarantee of sanity in these chemophobic times. For a good example, our own brilliant Congress enacted an inane and baseless ban or restriction on phthalates, among other items, in the ridiculous 2008 Consu

mer Product Safety Improvement Act
passed nearly unanimously and signed into law by that well-known toxic terrorist, Pres. George W. Bush!