Things are changing. Widespread consumer demand for plastic products that are free of the hormone-disrupting chemical bisphenol-A (BPA) has precipitated some significant positive changes in the way that food, beverage and water containers are manufactured. That’s the good news.
But a new study out of Germany has found that thousands of other potentially harmful chemicals are still leaching from plastic products into food and beverages, including an endocrine-disrupting chemical (EDC) known as di(2-ethylhexyl) fumarate, or DEHF, that is completely unregulated.
Martin Wagner and colleague, Jorg Oehlmann, from the Goethe University Frankfurt, learned this after conducting tests on 18 different bottled water products to look for the presence of EDCs. The team identified some 24,520 different chemicals present in the tested water.
But the biggest concern, and what appears to be the foundation of the study’s findings, was DEHF, a plasticizer chemical that is used to make plastic bottles more flexible. According to reports, DEHF was clearly identified in the tested water as the most consistent and obvious culprit causing anti-estrogenic activity. Despite trace amounts of more than 24,000 other potentially damaging chemicals, DEHF stood out as the only possible EDC capable of inducing this particular observed activity, a highly concerning observation.
The study’s published abstract explains that 13 of the 18 bottled water products tested exhibited “significant” anti-estrogenic activity, while 16 of the 18 samples were found to inhibit the body’s androgen receptors by an astounding 90 percent. Additionally, the other 24,520 chemical traces besides DEHF were also identified as exhibiting antagonistic activity, which means that they, too, are detrimental to the body’s hormonal system.
The Mystery Nasty.
Apparently DEHF is not alone in causing significant damage to the endocrine system. The team was unable to identify this chemical as being specifically anti-androgenic. This suggests that there is some other chemical, or chemical combination, being leached into bottled water that is interfering with the body’s chemical signaling system, which is, of course, responsible for hormone production and use within the body.“We confirmed the identity and biological activity of DEHF and additional isomers of dioctyl fumarate and maleate using authentic standards,” report the researchers. “Since DEHF is anti-estrogenic but not anti-androgenic we conclude that additional, yet unidentified EDCs must contribute to the antagonistic effect of bottled water.”
So while these specific findings concerning DEHF are groundbreaking, the overall conclusion to be drawn from this research is that far more study is needed to determine the types of chemicals that are being leeched from plastic into our food and water, not to mention the extent of this leeching. And since the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the rest of the three-letter government agencies will surely never get around to conducting this important research, independent science will simply have to take up the charge.
You can read the full study abstract here: