Health Care Without Harm
October 13, 2005


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."