David L. Eaton, Ph.D.
University of Washington
NIEHS Grant P30ES007033
An NIEHS-funded researcher and colleagues report that an intervention designed to minimize exposure to bisphenol A (BPA) and phthalates actually led to increases in phthalate concentrations. The study found that people may be exposed to BPA and phthalates in their diets, even when they eat organic food that is prepared, cooked, and stored in non-plastic containers.
The researchers conducted a randomized trial with 10 families. Half of the families receiving a catered diet of local, fresh organic food that was not prepared, cooked, or stored in plastic containers. The other families received written recommendations to reduce phthalate and BPA exposures.
The people who received the meal replacement showed an unexpected increase in urinary di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP) metabolite concentrations, rising from a median of 283.7 nanomoles per gram at baseline to 7,027.5 nanomoles per gram during the intervention (P<0.0001). The families who received the written material had no significant changes in phthalate concentrations during this time period. The investigators also saw a statistically significant increase in total BPA concentration between baseline and intervention periods for the families receiving meal replacements, but not in the other families. To identify the source of the exposure, they tested the food ingredients used in the meal replacements and found DEHP concentrations of 21,400 nanograms per gram in ground coriander and 673 nanograms per gram in milk.
The researchers conclude that without regulation to reduce phthalate and BPA concentrations in food production, it may be difficult to develop effective and feasible interventions for the general population.
Citation: Sathyanarayana S, Alcedo G, Saelens BE, Zhou C, Dills RL, Yu J, Lanphear B. 2013. Unexpected results in a randomized dietary trial to reduce phthalate and bisphenol A exposures. J Expo Sci Environ Epidemiol; doi: 10.1038/jes.2013.9. [Online 27 Feb 2013]