To the great surprise of experts, many citizens may be permanently exposed to a plasticizer that has been banned for years. As current analyzes by the Federal Environment Agency show, 37% of samples from the currently ongoing investigation contain mono-n-hexyl phthalate (MnHexP). The substance is a breakdown product of the dangerous plasticizer di-n-hexyl phthalate (DnHexP) – and has been banned in the EU for years. It is still unclear where the substance comes from, but the authorities' initial suspicions now point to sunscreen.
“You should not find a substance like this in the body, and we find it,” Marika Kolosa, a toxicologist at the Federal Environment Agency, told the German news agency (dpa) on Thursday. As we know from animal experiments, the substance can damage the reproductive organs of male fetuses in the womb and can also be harmful to the health of adults. This happens when the body breaks down DnHexP.
The research leads to extensive investigations
This substance has been practically banned in the European Union since 2013, with some exceptions, for example in cosmetics, toys and materials that come into contact with food. Since 2023, consent must be given explicitly for a specific purpose – but so far no one has applied. For this reason, the authorities did not consider it a potential problem. That changed suddenly when the State Office for Nature, Environment and Consumer Protection (LANUV) in North Rhine-Westphalia began an “event-related investigation” at the end of 2023. The trigger was Research conducted by the television station RTL on exposure to plasticizers among the population. The team analyzed urine samples from one family to see what these substances were present. The fact that mono-n-hexyl phthalate was found there shocked scientists and analysts. I was upset by the results, LANUV then tested 250 urine samplesWhich kindergarten children took in 2020 and 2021 on the subject. In fact: 150 of them – 61 percent – contained the chemical. In contrast, this was only the case in 26% of samples taken from 2016/17. Concentrations also varied widely: in older samples they averaged 0.28 micrograms per litre, and in 2021/21 they were ten times higher.
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