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IPEN and Endocrine Society Release New Report on EDCs in Plastics
Less widely reported than the mountains of single-use plastics and unrecycled plastics are the often-harmful chemical additives these plastics contain. Meant to make plastics more pliable or durable, more fire-resistant or antimicrobial, more UV-resistant or simply more colorful, many of these additives have been shown to disturb hormonal systems in humans and animals by leaching into liquids, food, and the environment. In a new report, “Plastics, EDCs & Health: A Guide for Public Interest Organizations and Policymakers on Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals & Plastics,” the Endocrine Society and IPEN detail chemicals, what they are and where they occur, their effects, and exposures to organisms, painting an alarming picture of the harms to which we are all exposed.
Endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) are nearly impossible to avoid in modern life. In less than a century of use, plastics have found their way into nearly every product and supply chain, and discarded or disintegrated plastics have reached the highest mountains and most distant regions of the oceans, and as such so have the additives they contain. Plastic containing EDCs is used extensively in packaging, construction, flooring, food production and packaging, cookware, health care, children’s toys, leisure goods, furniture, home electronics, textiles, automobiles and cosmetics. Known EDCs that leach from plastics and threaten health include bisphenol A and related chemicals, flame retardants, phthalates, per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), dioxins, UV-stabilizers, and toxic metals such as lead and cadmium.
“Many of the plastics we use every day at home and work are exposing us to a harmful cocktail of endocrine-disrupting chemicals,” said the report’s lead author, Jodi Flaws, Ph.D., of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in Urbana, Ill. “Definitive action is needed on a global level to protect human health and our environment from these threats.”
The report is available in several languages, and there is an accompanying brief “7 Harmful Chemical Types in Plastics,” which summarizes the effects of the most problematic groups. Visit the Plastics Pose a Threat to Human Health page to learn more.