Exposure to phthalates can cause children's allergy and asthma

Recent controversy over the discovery of clouding agents containing the banned chemical DEHP in beverages has caused public concerns. A research team of environmental health at National Cheng Kung University (NCKU) has verified that DEHP in the environment can lead to children's allergy and asthma and girls' precocious puberty.

The research team led by Vice President Huey-Jen Su and Prof. Ching-Chang Lee has targeted 193 children in a 3-year project which began in 2007 to expose the health effects of indoor DEPH on youth.

"Phthalates are found in children's toys, personnel care products, medical devices, building materials and food containers and packages at surprisingly high percentages," said Ching-Chang Lee. "Among them, DEHP is the most widely-used phthalate contributing up to 20% to 40% by weight in products."

Ordinary houses in Taiwan have dust which contains DEHP, DBP and BBzP, and DEHP alone occupies more than 90% of concentration.

Wooden floors with waterproof layer, varnish or wax, overused cables and plastic warp being heated in the microwave are reasons for the high concentration of DEHP at home. DEHP will not only spread in the air but it will also absorb neighboring dust particles and then accumulate in the environment or contaminate food.

In addition, the research team revealed that plastic bottles, bowls, cups, bags and tableware which contain DEHP are harmful to children's health. The chemical is often contained in shampoo, shower gel, hygiene and cosmetic products.

The DEHP concentration in their body can be significantly reduced if children wash their hands more, drink less commercial beverages and use fewer cosmetic products such as perfume, cream and nail polish.

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