Sun, May 26, 2019 - Page 1 News List

Plasticizers posing health risk to Taiwanese: doctor

HARMFUL SUBSTANCE:The plasticizer DEHP is widely used in PVC products, which are ubiquitous in virtually every household in Taiwan, health expert Su Ta-chen said

Staff Writer, with CNA

A team of National Taiwan University Hospital doctors give the thumbs-up sign at the hospital on Friday after announcing that plasticizers increase the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Photo: Wu Liang-yi, Taipei Times

People in Taiwan are highly exposed to plasticizers, which pose a risk to reproductive health and increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, a health expert said on Friday.

A tracking study of more than 700 21-year-olds that began in 2016 has found that the plasticizer DEHP (di-2-ethylhexyl phthalate) is related to coronary artery disease, said Su Ta-chen (蘇大成), director of National Taiwan University Hospital’s Department of Environmental and Occupational Medicine.

DEHP can affect the inner linings of small arteries and prevent them from functioning normally, a condition known as endothelial dysfunction, which increases the risk of low-density lipoprotein, or bad cholesterol, buildup, he said.

The problem is that DEHP, which is widely used in the manufacturing of items using polyvinyl chloride (PVC), is all around us, Su said, citing a study of 56 households in Taipei in 2017 and last year that found high concentrations of the substance in every household.

A study that he conducted at a Taipei elementary school found similar results, Su said.

The concentration of DEHP might be related to air quality, dust and the general environment, because the concentration decreased after the school was cleaned and the floors were sprinkled with water, Su said, citing the study.

DEHP can enter the human body through skin contact, eating or drinking contaminated food or by breathing contaminated air, he said.

Although the substance can be metabolized in about two to three days, prolonged exposure can harm the body, Su said, urging the government to introduce regulations to reduce household exposure to plasticizers.

He advised people to reduce the use of plastic products, such as toys, floor mats and wallpapers, and warned against using plastic wraps when reheating food in microwave ovens.

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