Health Care Without Harm October 13, 2005 EXPERTS RE-AFFIRM DEHP RISK TO HUMAN DEVELOPMENT, FERTILITY Today, an expert panel of the National Toxicology Program (NTP) re- affirmed that di-ethylhexyl-phthalate (DEHP) poses a risk to human development and fertility. DEHP is widely used as a plasticizer to make vinyl plastic soft and flexible. This was the agency's second review of DEHP in five years. In 2000, an NTP Expert Panel concluded that DEHP causes reproductive damage in animal studies and these studies are relevant to humans, especially infants, children, and pregnant and lactating women. Animal data shows that exposure to DEHP can cause testicular damage, reduced fertility, abnormal sperm counts, miscarriage and birth defects. Over the past three days, the NTP's second Expert Panel evaluated the last five years of science on DEHP exposure and toxicity relevant to human reproduction. Despite claims from DEHP manufacturers that the chemical is not of concern to humans, the Expert Panel concluded otherwise. The panel re-affirmed its previous conclusions: - DEHP is a reproductive and development toxicant in animal studies that are relevant to humans - health care is a significant source of DEHP exposure - levels of DEHP exposure in sick infants receiving medical care are of serious concern - because DEHP crosses the placenta, pregnant women receiving medical treatments are also of concern The panel slightly reduced their levels of concern in children 1-6 years of age and the general population of pregnant and nursing women because of better data on exposure levels. Significantly the Expert Panel largely dismissed a widely promoted industry study that found DEHP to be of minimal concern in a non-human primate species. "The chemical-industry sponsored study in marmosets was found to be significantly flawed in its data analysis and interpretation. Moreover, the Expert Panel concluded that this species of primates is of limited relevance for predicting reproductive effects on humans," said Dr. Ted Schettler of the Science and Environmental Health Network. "This process re-affirms the need for making industry sponsored data publicly available for close scrutiny," added Dr. Schettler. The panel's findings also affirm the urgent need for medical device manufacturers to stop using DEHP in their products. DEHP leaching out of PVC medical devices is among the highest routes of exposure to the chemical. "Women of child bearing age and parents of sick infants should not have to worry about reproductive toxicants leaching out of medical devices," said Anna Gilmore Hall, RN, executive director, Health Care Without Harm. Some health care organizations are changing their purchasing practices to eliminate DEHP, including Kaiser Permanente, Catholic Healthcare West, Consorta, and Premier. "Fortunately," added Mark Rossi, PhD, Clean Production Action, "DEHP-free alternatives that do not compromise health care treatment are widely available."