Also known as DBP, it is a common ingredient in nail polish and most synthetic fragrances sold today. It is used as a plasticizer, fragrance stabilizer, and is a key component in giving nail polish its unique properties. The most common mode of exposure, though, is through foods that come into contact with PVC (polyvinylchloride) plastic packaging (Sources: Food Additives and Contaminants
, November 2010, pages 1,608–1,1616;and Risk Analysis
, August 2009, pages 1,170-1,181). Phthalates are also found in countless other products, including building materials, insecticides, nutritional supplements, children’s toys, and automobiles (Source: International Journal of Andrology
, February 2006, pages 181–185). In short, it is impossible to completely avoid exposure to phthalates.
Dibutyl phthalate (DBP) became controversial when The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC, www.cdc.gov) published the National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals—Results for Mono-butyl phthalate [which is] (metabolized from dibutyl phthalate). The report noted that measurable levels of phthalate were found in the urine of the participants in the study. However, the CDC also stated that “Finding a measurable amount of one or more phthalate metabolites in urine does not mean that the level of one or more phthalates causes an adverse health effect. Whether phthalates at the levels of metabolites reported here are a cause for health concern is not yet known; more research is needed” (Source: Environmental Health Perspectives, December 2000, volume 108, issue 12).
In animal tests, dibutyl phthalate has been shown to produce detrimental effects when DBP was given orally to pregnant mice. In-utero exposure to DBP was shown to cause reproductive organ abnormality (Sources: Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health, Volume 73, 2010, pages 1,544–1,559; and Systems Biology in Reproductive Medicine, December 2010, pages 413–419). Whether this same concern or other health risks from DBP exposure applies to humans remains unknown, though other research has shown oral consumption of DBP through drinking water may be linked to thyroid issues (Source: Environmental Science and Technology, September 2010, pages 6,863-6,868).
Despite the negative association phthalate exposure has in animals, an analysis of multiple studies and epidemiologic research led to the conclusion that “...the risks are low, even lower than originally thought, and that there is no convincing evidence of adverse effects on humans. Since the scientific evidence strongly suggests that risks to humans are low, phthalate regulations that have been enacted are unlikely to lead to any marked improvement in public health.” (Source: Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health, February 2009, pages 157–174).