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Frequently Asked Questions

Plasticisers and Health Concern
   
3.1

Will the affected product cause any adverse health effects?

 

Animal studies showed that phthalate plasticisers underwent rapid metabolism and most of it and its metabolites were excreted through urine and feces. Whether there will be health consequences due to the consumption depends on the level of phthalate plasticisers in the product and the amount and duration of consumption. Occasional excursion above the safety reference value is unlikely to cause any significant health risk provided that the average intake does not continuously exceed the safety reference value which emphasizes on a lifetime exposure.

   
3.2
CFS announced that a jelly product was found containing 18 mg/kg DEHP. Will it cause any adverse health effects in children?
 
A 5 year-old child consuming 1 cup (about 25g) of jelly each day with 18 mg/kg DEHP would result in the tolerable daily intake (TDI) of WHO for DEHP being exceeded. Children should stop eating the affected jelly. As this safety reference value emphasises on a lifetime exposure, occasionally consumption of the affected fruit jelly is unlikely to cause significant adverse health effects in children.
     
3.3 Does consumption of food containing plasticisers cause reproductive effects?  
 
Studies regarding reproductive effects in humans after oral exposure to phthalate plasticisers are not available. Animal studies showed rodents exposed to large dose (e.g. exceeding 100 mg/kg bw/day) of DEHP would result in the testes being adversely affected. Whether there will be health consequences due to the consumption depends on the level of phthalate plasticisers in the product and the amount and duration of consumption. Occasional excursion above the safety reference value is unlikely to cause any significant health risk provided that the average intake does not continuously exceed the safety reference value which emphasizes on a lifetime exposure.
 
     
3.4 Does consumption of food containing plasticisers cause cancers?  
 
No relevant human data on the carcinogenicity of phthalate plasticisers are available. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) in 2011 concluded that the human relevance to the mechanism leading to DEHP-induced cancer in several target tissues (eg. liver and testis) in rats or mice could not be ruled out, resulting in the evaluation of DEHP as a Group 2B agent (possibly carcinogenic to humans). Whether there will be health consequences due to the consumption depends on the level of phthalate plasticisers in the product and the amount and duration of consumption. Occasional excursion above the safety reference value is unlikely to cause any significant health risk provided that the average intake does not continuously exceed the safety reference value which emphasizes on a lifetime exposure.
 
     
3.5 How much plasticiser-contaminated food needs to be consumed to pose a risk?  
 
Phthlates plasticiser have low acute toxicity. As for chronic exposure, the World Health Organization has set a TDI of 0.025 mg per kg body weight per day for DEHP and the European Food Safety Authroity has set TDIs of 0.01 mg per kg body weight per day for DBP and 0.15 mg per kg body weight per day for DINP. As this safety reference value emphasises on a lifetime exposure, occasional excursion above the safety reference value is unlikely to cause any significant health risk provided that the average intake does not continuously exceed the safety reference value.
 
     
3.6
Does a pregnant woman need any special antenatal check-ups if she is suspected to have consumed food containing plasticisers?
 
 
If a pregnant woman has been exposed to high dose of plasticisers to a relatively long period of time and has concerns over her health, she may wish to consult her family doctors.
 
     
3.7
What to do if children have consumed food containing plasticisers?
 
 
Children should discontinue consuming the affected products. Available data indicated that phthalate plasticisers can be effectively excreted from the human body. There is no cause for concern if the duration of exposure is short and occasional.
 
     
3.8
Are there any differences in the absorption of plasticisers and their health effects between children and adults?
 
 
There is lack of human studies regarding how children differ from adults their susceptibility to health effects from phthalate plasticisers. However, it was suggested that the relatively higher proportion of intestinal tissue in relation to body weight and the relatively higher blood flow through the gastrointestinal tract might be factors causing increased absorption in young animals. In addition, studies suggest that young male animals are more susceptible than older ones to the adverse effects of phthalates such as DEHP on the sex organs.
 
     
3.9
Can plasticisers be excreted out after consumption of plasticiser-contaminated food?
 
 

Animal studies showed that phthalate plastiscisers underwent rapid metabolism in the body and ingested DEHP, DINP, DIDP, and DBP can be excreted from the body within 24 to 72 hours. Human studies also showed that most of the ingested DEHP can be excreted from the body within 24 hours.

 
     
3.10
How can we choose to avoid possible plasticiser-contaminated food?
 
 
The public may pay attention to the test results on plasticisers published on CFS website. Meanwhile, members of the public are advised to take a balanced diet as to avoid excessive exposure to contaminants from a small range of food items.
 
     
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Last Revision Date : 13-04-2012