Abstract Phthalates are a diverse group of chemicals, including five with pro- duction volumes of over 1 million pounds per year in the United States (U.S.). They are used as plasticizers in a variety of plastics including polyvinyl chloride (PVC), medical devices (e.g., intravenous bags and tubing), food contact materials (FCMs), toys, and household goods, and as solvents in fragranced personal care and household products. Although not all phthalates have been evaluated for their toxic effects, many that are in widespread use have displayed endocrine disrupting properties on the developing reproductive system, especially in males, in labora- tory, animal, and human studies. Widespread exposure to phthalates has been documented in the U.S. and in European countries, with some examples of unusually high exposures in certain populations, such as neonates with intravenous interventions in hospital settings. For the majority of the population, the primary route of exposure to the endocrine disrupting phthalates produced in the highest volume, bis(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP) and diisononyl phthalate (DINP), is through diet. DEHP is used in food packaging, and also has been found to con- taminate food sources directly. Some newer phthalates that have been introduced as alternatives to phthalates with known health concerns are also endocrine dis- ruptors, while others have not been evaluated. Regulatory agencies are considering ways to define phthalates and assess their risk as a group based on chemical structure. K.
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