Processing Magazine

Common chemical may disrupt children’s mental development

September 8, 2011

NEW YORK — A study recently published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives shows that phthalates, common chemicals used to make plastics more flexible and durable, may be harmful to children’s mental and behavioral development and muscular coordination, WebMD Health News reported.

According to the study, phthalates may affect thyroid hormone levels, which play a key role in prenatal and newborn brain development.

The chemicals, which are used in products such as car interiors, floor tiles and food packaging, may also reduce the amount of testosterone produced in the body.

“There are lots of potential ways that this is acting,” said Robin M. Whyatt, one of the study’s researchers and deputy director of the Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health at Columbia University. “We are at the beginning in our understanding of these mechanisms.”