U.S. Reps. Ted Lieu (D-Los Angeles) and Katie Porter (D-Orange County) on Aug. 6 introduced the Preventing Harmful Exposure to Phthalates Act, a bill to prevent phthalates from contaminating the U.S. food supply.
Phthalates are chemicals added to plastic products used throughout the food production process and have been known to cause serious health problems. U.S. Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) will be leading companion legislation in the Senate.
Phthalates are harmful chemicals added to plastic products used throughout the food production process and can cause serious health problems. The chemicals have been found to leach into food through plastic products and equipment such as tubing, lid gaskets, food preparation gloves, conveyor belts and food packaging materials.
A recent report in the American Journal of Public Health showed that prenatal exposure to phthalates can have lasting consequences to children’s brain development and increase children’s risks for learning, attention and behavior disorders. Pregnant women’s exposure to phthalates has been shown to decrease fetal testosterone, as well as harm reproductive development in male babies.
The report also showed that, overall, women have higher exposure to phthalates found in personal care products than men, and Black and Latina women have higher exposure to certain phthalates compared to white women, independent of socioeconomic status.
“We know phthalates are toxic endocrine-disrupting chemicals that cause developmental and reproductive harm,” Lieu said. “Every day, American families are exposed to multiple phthalates in their diets regardless of whether they eat at home or elsewhere. I’m pleased to introduce the Preventing Harmful Exposure to Phthalates Act with Senator Feinstein, Senator Gillibrand, and Congresswoman Porter. The time for action on this health risk to families, especially our children and underserved communities, is long overdue.”
Feinstein said the harm from phthalates is “well-documented.”
“Many Americans aren’t even aware that it is happening,” she added. “The fact that exposure to these toxic chemicals may come from multiple sources we come in contact with daily, including the very food we eat, should make banning them from U.S. products a national imperative. We already banned phthalates from toys and other children’s products. It’s time to remove them from food packaging and other products that threaten our health.”