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Your Environment. Your Health.

All About Phthalates

Partnerships for Environmental Public Health (PEPH)

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All About Phthalates

March 23, 2015

Expert: Robin Whyatt, Dr.P.H.

Phthalates are a family of chemicals used in many plastics and scented products. Recent research has linked prenatal and early childhood phthalate exposure with a variety of adverse health effects. In this podcast, we explore the latest scientific findings and offer tips on how to reduce your exposure.


Robin Whyatt, Dr. P.H.

Robin Whyatt, Dr. P.H. is Professor of Environmental Health Sciences in the Department of Environmental Health Sciences at the Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University and Deputy Director of the Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health (CCCEH). She has over 20 years of research experience using biologic markers to assess effects of environmental exposures during pregnancy and early-childhood, including to endocrine disruptors. She currently serves as principal investigator on two NIH funded research grants and as co-principal investigator, along with Dr. Andrew Rundle, on an NIEHS funded grant looking at exposures to endocrine disruptors and childhood obesity among cohort children. Dr. Whyatt has also collaborated extensively with the Center for Disease Control on the validation of biomarkers of prenatal and early-life exposures, and has served as principal investigator on research to validate the measurement of non-persistent pesticides and phthalates in postpartum meconium and other biologic samples. She has published widely on research using biologic markers in studies of exposures during pregnancy and early childhood, and has extensive background in environmental policy.

For More Information

National Biomonitoring Program: Phthalates Factsheet
Learn what scientists are doing to understand phthalate exposure and find details about various types of phthalates at this website from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Phthalates Business Guidance
Find details about the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s ban on phthalates in children’s toys and child care articles, including information about which products are affected and which phthalates are included.

Phthalates Frequently Asked Questions Learn more about current science and find out what the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is doing to monitor levels of phthalates in consumer products at this FDA website.

Phthalates Action Plan
Learn about the rules that apply to the use of phthalates at this website of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Phthalates: The Everywhere Chemical Handout
Learn more about the different types of phthalates in this fact sheet from Zero Breast Cancer.

Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health
Find the latest research and download brochures and fact sheets with practical tips for reducing harmful exposures in your home at this website from the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health.


Factor-Litvak P, Insel B, Calafat AM, Liu X, Perera F, Rauh VA, Whyatt R. 2014. Persistent Associations between Maternal Prenatal Exposure to Phthalates on Child IQ at Age 7 Years . PLOS One 10;9(12)e114003.

Whyatt RM, Perzanowski MS, Just AC, Rundle AG, Donohue KM, Calafat AM, Hoepner LA, Perera FP, Miller RL. 2014. Asthma in Inner-City Children at 5–11 Years of Age and Prenatal Exposure to Phthalates: The Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health Cohort . Environ Health Perspect 122(10):1141-1146.

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