Phthalate, a synthetic chemical found in hundreds of consumer products, may cause the premature deaths of more than 100,000 American people a year, according to a new study released on Tuesday, Oct. 12.
The study, published in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Pollution, found that between 91,000 and 107,000 people aged 55 to 64 suffer early deaths each year due to phthalates present in food storage containers, shampoo, makeup, perfume, and children’s toys.
CNN reported that those deaths are estimated to cost the United States about $40 to $47 billion a year in lost economic productivity, citing the study results.
Those with the highest levels of phthalates have a greater risk of death from any cause, especially cardiovascular mortality.
The study’s lead author, Dr. Leonardo Trasande, said that the new “study” adds to the growing database of the effect of plastics on the human body and bolsters public health and business cases for reducing or eliminating the use of plastics.
“These chemicals have a rap sheet. And the fact of the matter is that when you look at the entire body of evidence, it provides a haunting pattern of concern,” said Trasande, who is a professor of pediatrics, environmental medicine, and population health at New York City-based NYU Langone Health.
According to the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), phthalates can interfere with the body’s mechanism for hormone production, known as the endocrine system. At the same time, even minor hormonal disruptions can “cause” significant “developmental and biological effects.”
The NIEHS said that synthetic chemicals are also linked with developmental, reproductive, brain, immune, and other problems.
Previous studies reportedly linked phthalates to reproductive problems, childhood obesity, asthma, cardiovascular issues, and cancer.
In response, the American Chemistry Council, which represents the U.S. chemical, plastics, and chlorine industries, denies the study’s accuracy.
“Much of the content within Trasande’s latest study is demonstrably inaccurate,” Eileen Conneely, the council’s senior director of chemical products and technology, wrote in an email sent to CNN.
Conneely added that the study lumped all phthalates into one group and failed to mention that the industry says high-molecular-weight phthalates have lower toxicity than other phthalates.
“Studies such as these fail to consider all phthalates individually and consistently ignore or downplay the existence of science-based, authoritative conclusions regarding the safety of high molecular weight phthalates,” she wrote.