When analyzing the effects of potentially hormone-disrupting chemicals, regulators should focus on the cumulative effects of exposure, a panel has claimed.
The National Research Council was specifically commenting on the Environmental Protection Agency’s attitude toward phthalates, which are added to plastic toys to make them flexible.
Animal studies involving these chemicals have indicated that exposure over time can disrupt the male reproductive system and affect testosterone levels, according to the council.
It suggested that the EPA should change its focus from analyzing these chemicals individually to looking at how people are affected when exposed to numerous toxins from food additives, cosmetics, toys, household cleaners and other products.
"If we don’t do this as a cumulative risk assessment focused on these adverse effects, we’re going to be underestimating risks," said panel chairwoman Deborah Cory-Slechta of the University of Rochester, according to Reuters.
The government has already taken steps to ban phthalates from children’s products, beginning February 10, 2009, although stores will be permitted to sell toys that contain the chemicals if they were manufactured before that date.
Phthalates are already prohibited in cosmetics and toys in the European Union.