Phthalates and Proposed REACH Regulations

March 12, 2012
1:00 pm US Eastern Time

Slides & Resources

Dr. Shanna Swan: Science Update

Reference list for phthalate discussion

Meeker JD, Sathyanarayana S, Swan SH. Phthalates and other additives in plastics: Human exposure and associated health outcomes. Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 2009 Jul 27;364(1526):2097-113.

60 Minutes: Phthalates--Are they Safe?

Dr. Sarah Janssen: US Policy Update

FDA draft guidance on use of DBP and DEHP in pharmaceuticals

EPA action plan on phthalates. See page 9 for existing regulations on phthalates

US EPA: Phthalates Action Plan Summary

US Consumer Products Safety Commission: Chronic Hazard Advisory Panel (CHAP) on Phthalates

CPSC review: Phthalates and alternatives for children's toys

Dr. Lisette van Vliet: EU Policy Update

Flowchart for the REACH Restrictions Process

REACH Regulations: ECHA commentary site. Public commentary open through March 16, 2012 

Listen to Recording

Phthalates are a group of chemicals used to soften and increase the flexibility of plastic and vinyl. They are used in hundreds of consumer products, such as toys, shower curtains, vinyl flooring, food packaging and cosmetics. Some types of phthalates have been associated with reproductive harm in animal and epidemiological studies. Di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP) is listed as "reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen" in the Twelfth Report on Carcinogens published by the National Toxicology Program. The US EPA developed a proposed rule in 2010 to add phthalates to a Chemicals of Concern List under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).

The European Union has four phthalates, (DIBP, DBP, BBP, and DEHP) under consideration for restriction from consumer products. A public commentary period is currently open under the European Community Regulation of chemicals—known as the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemical substances. This call featured Dr. Shanna Swan from the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, Dr. Sarah Janssen from the Natural Resources Defense Council, and Dr. Lisette van Vliet from the Health and Environmental Alliance. Dr. Swan gave a summary of the state of the evidence on phthalates, Dr. Janssen discussed US regulatory reviews of phthalates, and Dr. van Vliet provided insight into the REACH regulatory process and scope of the proposed restrictions.

Featured Speakers

Shanna Swan, PhD, is the Vice Chair for Research in the Department of Preventive Medicine and staff member of the Children’s Environmental Health Center (CEHC) at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine. Before joining Mount Sinai, Dr. Swan served as professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, professor in Environmental Medicine, and director of the Center for Reproductive Epidemiology at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry. Since 1998, Dr. Swan has served as principal investigator of the Study for Future Families, a multi-center pregnancy cohort study that examines the environmental causes of geographic variation in reproductive health endpoints. Dr. Swan has published over 150 papers on the impact of environmental exposures on male and female reproductive health.

Sarah Janssen, MD, PhD, MPH, is a senior scientist in the Health and Environment Program of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). NRDC is a national, nonprofit environmental action organization with over 1.3 million members dedicated to the protection of public health and the environment. In her capacity as a Scientist with NRDC, Dr. Janssen provides scientific expertise for policy and regulatory decisions on a number of toxic chemicals, including endocrine disrupting substances. Her work has included research on flame retardants, cosmetics, plastics and plasticizers, breast cancer and threats to adult reproductive health and child development. 

Lisette van Vliet, PhD, is Toxics Policy Advisor for the Health and Environment Alliance, and works in Brussels, the seat of the European Union.  She holds a PhD in international relations and environmental studies from the Australian National University in Canberra. Dr. van Vliet has been working on Toxic Chemicals for the International Chemical Secretariat, Health Care Without Harm Europe, and the Health and Environment Alliance (previously called the European Public Health Alliance Environment Network, or EEN) since 2005. She is well-versed in REACH regulations, the new EU chemicals legislation, as well as other EU legislation and policy governing harmful chemicals such as phthalates, mercury and endocrine disruptors.

The call was moderated by Steve Heilig, CHE Director of Public Health & Education, and Director of Public Health & Education, San Francisco Medical Society.