Di-2-ethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP)

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Di-2-ethylhexyl Phthalate (DEHP) is one of several chemicals known as phthalates which are commonly used in plastics, cosmetics, and fragrances[1]. Concentrations of DEHP in plastics can reach 40 percent by weight.[2] DEHP has been found in sewage sludge. DEHP has a low water solubility (0,003 mg/l), a very low tendency to vaporize and a high adsorption rate to particles. DEHP is a very stable chemical, it takes 2000 years to degrade it by inorganic mechanisms. The environmental half-life of DEHP is 50 days.[3] DEHP is an endocrine disruptor.

Human Health Effects

When ingested, DEHP is broken down into 30 metabolites which are rapidly eliminated in urine, and in humans, as glucuronide conjugates. Metabolites include:[4] mono-(2-ethyl-5-hexyl) phthalate (MEHP), mono-(2-ethyl-5-oxohexyl) phthalate (MEOHP), mono-(2-ethyl-5-hydroxyhexyl) phthalate (MEHHP), and mono-(2-ethyl-5-carboxypentyl) phthalate (MECPP). In rodent studies, DEHP has resulted in liver toxicity, decreased testicular weight, and testicular atrophy.[5] However, testicular or liver toxicity was not observed in a study on marmoset monkeys. In female rats, very high doses of DEHP suppressed estradiol production. Prenatal exposure to DEHP causes smaller penis size in boys.[6] Male rodents exposed prenatally to phthalates were born with "a shorter anogenital distance (AGD), smaller genitals, incomplete descent of the testes, and other changes to the male reproductive tract." A study by Shanna Swan, director of the Center for Reproductive Epidemiology at the University of Rochester, shows the same symptoms in humans. However, her study has not yet shown if exposed human boys will develop the same problems as mature rodents, like decreased semen quality and fertility and occasional testicular tumors.

Articles and resources

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References

  1. Janet Pelley, [http://pubs.acs.org/action/showStoryContent?doi=10.1021%2Fon.2008.11.12.154968 " Plasticizer may make boys less masculine"], Environmental Science & Technology, November 12, 2008, Accessed August 11, 2010
  2. Centers for Disease Control, Fourth National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals, Accessed August 5, 2010
  3. Phthalates, Ospar website, Accessed August 2nd, 2010.
  4. Centers for Disease Control, Fourth National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals, Accessed August 5, 2010
  5. Centers for Disease Control, Fourth National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals, Accessed August 5, 2010
  6. Janet Pelley, "Plasticizer may make boys less masculine", Environmental Science & Technology, November 12, 2008, Accessed August 11, 2010

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