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Physician warns of dangers of ubiquitous plasticizers

2019/05/24 22:51:48

Photo from Pixabay

Taipei, May 24 (CNA) A health specialist has warned that people in Taiwan are highly exposed to plasticizers and that beyond their harmful effects on reproductive health they also increase the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Based on a tracking study of more than 700 21-year-olds starting in 2016, the plasticizer DEHP (Di-(2-ethylhexyl) phthalateis) was found to be related to coronary artery disease, said Dr. Su Ta-chen (蘇大成) at a press conference at National Taiwan University Hospital (NTUH) on Friday.

He said DEHP can affect the inner linings of small arteries and prevent them from functioning normally, a condition known as endothelial dysfunction, which increases the risk of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) buildup.

LDL is also referred to as bad cholesterol.

The problem is that DEHP, which is widely used as a plasticizer in manufacturing items using polyvinyl chloride (PVC), is all around us, Su said, citing a study of 56 households in Taipei in 2017 and 2018 indicating high concentrations of the substance in every household.

The same result was found in an elementary school in Taipei, said Su, the director of NTUH's Environmental and Occupational Medicine.

According to Su's research, the concentration of DEHP may be related to air, dust and the general environment because the amount of DEHP decreased after cleaning and sprinkling water at the school.

DEHP can enter the human body through skin contact or the intake of food or drinks, or by breathing contaminated air.

Although the substance can be metabolized in about two to three days, prolonged exposure to it can still harm the human body, Su warned, and he urged the government to introduce regulations to reduce household exposure to plasticizers.

In the meantime, he advised the public to reduce the use of plastic products, such as plastic toys, floor mats, and wallpaper, and warned against the use of plastic wraps for re-heating food in microwave ovens.

(By Chen Wei-ting and Emerson Lim)
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