Small levels of DEHP ingestion pose no health risks, says BfR study

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Small levels of DEHP ingestion pose no health risks, says BfR study

May 07
11:37 2013

The small levels of DEHP that can be ingested via food do not pose a health risk, according to the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR).

However, the agency warned that the tolerable daily intake (TDI) value can be exceeded if foods with permanently very high DEHP concentrations are consumed, which according to estimates occures in roughly 1% of consumers.

DEHP (di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate) is commonly used as a softener which keeps plastic products made of PVC soft and supple and plastics flexible.

It has been classified by the European Union as toxic for Foods affected reproduction and from 2015 it cannot be used for the manufacture of consumer products without approval within the scope of the EU chemicals regulation REACH.

Meat, fat, cereals, fruit, vegetables, milk and dairy products can be contaminated with the chemical.

Fatty condiments such as mayonnaise and oily convenience products, such as vegetables and fish in jars and oily canned goods showed considerably higher DEHP values compared to unpacked, unprocessed foods, among the products included in the study.

Foods can absorb DEHP and other plasticisers especially during processing or from packaging.

A BfR study found that the intate quantity for the majority of consumers is small, so no health risks exist and DEHP and its metabolities are quickly eliminated from the body.

It looked at data from the last 20 years on the consumption behaviour of children, adolescents and adults in Germany and various intake sources, including 37 food groups were taken into account.

TDI levels

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) established a daily quantity of DEHP of maximum 50 micrograms per kilogram of body weight which can be ingested every day of a person’s life (Tolerable Daily Intake, TDI) without any health-damaging effects.

When consuming food, adolescents and adults in Germany currently ingest an average dose of 13 – 21 micrograms of DEHP per kilogram of body weight.

In the study, mean overall exposure for children was estimated to be an intake quantity of 15 – 44 micrograms per kilogram of body weight per day which is below the TDI value.

The BfR said the substance has been found in the environment and in human urine and can have a damaging effect on the reproductive organs which can impair the fertility and development of unborn children.

The study said in the worst case, small children can have higher levels of exposure because they not only ingest DEHP through their food but also through housedust on floors and other objects they put in their mouths but intake quantities are still low in most cases.

However, it cannot be excluded that the intake quantities tolerable for health are exceeded by a small percentage of the population.

Commissioned by the Federal Environment Agency (UBA) the results matched with previous measurements of DEHP metabolities in the human body.

The BfR said intake can be reduced by preparing fresh food more often, using fewer convenience foods and changing brands more often.


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