Aggregate Exposures to Phthalates in Humans

Phthalates are a family of chemicals that are produced in the millions of tons annually worldwide, and are a principal component of many diverse products that consumers come into contact with at home, at work, and in hospitals. They include products made of flexible polyvinyl chloride plastic (PVC), cosmetics and other personal care goods, pesticides, building materials, lubricants, adhesives, and film, among other items. In this report, we summarize what is known about human exposures to phthalates and consider the potential health impacts of exposure to real-world mixtures of these chemicals. Using a relative potency approach, based on what is known about mechanisms of action and available experimental data, it becomes clear that, for a large number of women of reproductive age, their aggregate exposure to phthalates is sufficient to significantly increase the risk of abnormal development in male fetuses and baby boys.