Hormone-like plasticizers in food

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Study determines the plasticizer load of Germans through food

A recent study by the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) has determined how many plasticizers substances people in Germany consume through their food. The result showed that the loads with the plasticizer DEHP would be “in the tolerable range”, but there is still a permanent load. In addition, the limit was exceeded in one percent of the foodstuffs examined.

Many plasticizers in ready meals and sauces
A lot of plasticizers can be found in fatty sauces and ready meals. These contained high concentrations of DEHP in the analyzes. DEHP is the abbreviation for di (2-ethylhexyl) phthalate. This substance keeps plastics such as PVC soft and smooth, for example. The substance was recently classified by the European Union as "toxic to reproduction" in addition to bisphenol A. Numerous studies had found that plasticizers act like hormones and thus interfere with reproduction. Damage to the womb can also be triggered. Since then, no plasticizer substances have been used in pacifiers, children's articles or cosmetics. Measurements taken as part of the Children's Environment Survey carried out by the Federal Environment Agency from 2003 to 2006, however, had indicated an increased intake of DEHP in around 1.5 percent of all children in Germany - however, the route by which they took the plasticizer remained unclear.

The aim of the study was to measure the amount that people in Germany absorb from plasticizers and to determine so-called absorption paths. For this purpose, the scientists collected data from the past 20 years on the nutrition of children, adolescents and adults in Germany. In addition, the different absorption paths of the more than 37 food groups, toys and products such as plastics in shoes, cosmetics, house dust, car interior air and textiles were taken into account.

Children: plasticizers through food and toys
The result showed that the highest amount of plasticizers is absorbed through food. "Currently, there are an average of 13 to 21 micrograms of DEHP per kilogram of body weight", the risk institute. "The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has set a maximum daily amount of 50 micrograms / kg body weight for this plasticizer that can be consumed for life without harm to health (Tolerable Daily Intake, TDI)". For most German consumers, the intake of hormone-like substances is below the EU limit. However, tolerance would be exceeded in about one percent of Germans because they consume excessive amounts of food that has a high proportion of plasticizers.

The plasticizer intake in children is about 50 percent through food consumption. Other sources are dust and toys. This is especially true for children who spend a lot of time on the floor. They absorb a lot more chemicals than others. In the present study, the "mean total exposure for children was 15-44 micrograms per kilogram of body weight and day."

Minimize intake by fresh food
All foods such as meat, cheese, milk, vegetables, bread or fruit can be contaminated with the chemicals. During the study, however, the load was particularly high in fatty sauces such as mayonnaise and oily ready meals such as vegetables and meat from glasses. Canned food also usually contained significantly higher plasticizer values. The contamination arises from the packaging and processing. Although the EU has banned DEHP in packaging containing fatty foods, the substance can still be found in imported products. The environment is also still very polluted, so that the substances also appear in the food.

The absorption of plasticizers can be minimized. For example, it makes sense to use fresh food, the packaging of which is not made of plastic. Typical ready meals should also be avoided. “Product brands should be changed more often. Because the same foods can contain different amounts of DEHP depending on their origin. It is also advisable to clean floors and carpets more frequently, ”says the Federal Institute.

Parents of small children recommend that the risk assessors only put things in their mouths that are intended for this purpose. Although the softening substance was banned for children's toys in 1999, it can always be found in children's articles. Older toys also often contain plasticizers. (sb)

Read on:
Dangerous plasticizers in food
Plasticizers cause diabetes and obesity
BUND: Increased plasticizer load in day care centers
Environmentalists: BPA ban completely inadequate
Bisphenol A makes girls hyperactive and aggressive
Hormone-active chemicals threaten health

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