Levels of two plasticisers in children found to correlate with higher blood pressure and insulin resistance

Supposedly safe replacements for a harmful plasticiser have been found to positively correlate with both increased blood pressure and insulin resistance in children and adolescents.1 The scientists behind the study are now calling for regulatory changes to ensure that chemicals are tested for toxicity before they are put on the market.

A study of 1329 US children aged between eight and 19 found that increased urinary levels of two phthalates, DINP and DIDP, significantly correlate with increased systolic blood pressure. A previous study by the same group2 also found an association between increased levels of DINP and insulin resistance. These phthalates are replacements for another, DEHP, which is an endocrine disruptor in young children.

In the EU, DEPH is banned in concentrations over 0.1% in all toys, and DINP and DIDP are banned in concentrations over 0.1% in toys ‘which can be placed in the mouth by children’. Similar bans are in place in the US. However, the researchers suggest phthalates leaking into food when plastic food containers are heated is another source of these chemicals.

The scientists also expressed concern about the US Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), which does not currently require chemicals like phthalates to undergo toxicity tests to get regulatory approval. Concerted efforts are currently being made in the US to reform the TSCA.