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Sunday, February 10, 2008



I just returned from the local supermercado. I tried to buy a bottle of soy sauce in a glass container, but it was only in plastic. Items I wanted to buy in a container other than plastic included: milk; juices; other sauces; diet and regular sodas; oat meal which I bought last week in a cardboard circular box with a plastic top now was totally in plastic; meat was wrapped in plastic before it was wrapped in paper; I had to put my fruit in a plastic bag; peanut butter in a plastic jar. The only items I found in glass containers were: beer; wine; and large bottles of tomato sauce.

What was I trying to do? I have been concerned recently by the chemical phthalates we consume daily to which we pay little attention.

WHAT ARE PHTHALATES? Phthalates are chemicals used in the manufacture of plastics to make them softer. Not to get chemically technical these phthalates include compounds like Di(2ethylhexyl)phthalate (DEHP) and Butyl benzyl phthalate (BBP).

Phthalates are everywhere: in ink used to write and print on plastic, board and foil-packed products; package adhesives; in addition to the plastic containers of the food items mentioned above, phthalates are also within the foods, such as baby milk formulas, cheese, margarine, and more; vinyl flooring, emulsion paint, and PVC baby toys.


Because phthalates are fat soluble, they tend to accumulate in milk, butter, margarine, and cheese as the animal consumes phthalates. They also accumulate within human body fat.

Several phthalates, particularly DEPH, are testicular toxins and may include the death and disintegration of testicular germ cells. Occupational exposure to high levels has resulted in miscarriages and other complications of pregnancy.

Numerous in vitro and in vivo experiments have confirmed the toxicity of phthalates.


As a nutritionist and a physician interested in allergy and environmental medicine, I have been interested in the potential causes of Erectile Dysfunction (ED) for a number of years. I used to watch young men in their 30's, 40's, and 50's asking me for prescriptions of Viagra which they required to sustain an erection. Why in my experience even up until the age of mid 50's I could brag to requiring something to keep me down. I wish I could brag so at 73! Why were all these young men requiring Viagra-like drugs? I did not know the answer, and I am not sure I have an answer now.

Recently I have studied the toxic effects of phthalates. I remember when milk was delivered at home in glass containers. I have not seen milk in glass for over 30 years. Everything is now packaged in a plastic of some sorts. This may be due to the fact that glass is much heavier than plastic and the cost of shopping is therefore less with plastic containers. Try going to the supermarket and see for yourself. Perhaps the exposure to each container might be small, but the enormity of the problem comes from the large volume of items packaged in plastic – EVERYTHING – so the exposure becomes great!

We must be concerned about the impact chemistry is having upon our health. Our bodies are magnificent living machines which can detoxify many natural poisons in our environment, but not many organic chemicals which Nature has never intended to get into our bodies. We have enzymes which perform the process of detoxification. But we have not evolved to the point where our bodies can detoxify some organic chemical poisons.

Try an experiment. Get a polystyrene cup, add hot water to it, then a tea bag. As the tea steeps, squeeze a lemon into the cup and wait a few minutes. Run your fingers along the inside of the cup, and you will feel the slime of the polystyrene melting. If you leave it long enough, the cup will disintegrate. As you drink the tea, you are also consuming melted polystyrene.

Recommendation: Try not to buy items packaged in plastic. Good luck! Try to buy foods packaged in paper. One Google search revealed that brown paper might also contain a small amount of phthalates. Paper, however, does contain a small amount of Dioxin which is a known poison.

I guess the best we might strive for is to decrease our exposure to these chemicals. Here in Panama I try to shop for vegetables at the many roadside shops where the local farmers sell their produce. Shopping at the supermercado is a wasteland similar to what it is in the US.

CDC Data Points to Phthalates in Cosmetics as Serious Concern
In September 2000, researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported finding seven different phthalates in the bodies of 289 persons tested for these chemicals, and that every person tested had a particular phthalate called dibutyl phthalate, or DBP, in their body. The ubiquity of phthalates in the general population surprised the scientists: ?From a public health perspective, these data provide evidence that phthalate exposure is both higher and more common than previously suspected,? noted a CDC researcher involved in the study. But the biggest surprise came when the researchers broke the data down by age and gender for DBP. They discovered that women of childbearing age appear to receive the highest levels of exposures to this phthalate. . http://www.chemicalbodyburden.org/hb_cs_phthalates.htm (Good for phthalates in cosmetics)

Additionally, women of child bearing age probably have more fat wherein the phthalates can be stored.

For more detailed information(highlight, copy, and paste):
1. http://www.website.lineone.net/~mwarhurst/phthalates.html
2. www.gristmill.grist.org/story/2007/8/15/104934/059
3. http://www.chemicalbodyburden.org/hb_cs_phthalates.htm (Good for phthalates in cosmetics)
4. www.chemicalbodyburden.org/cs_phthalate.htm

nicola michael Tauraso, M.D.
Director, Tauraso Medical Clinic

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