A major government study examining chemical exposure among the general population has found that children have the highest level of a potentially toxic plasticizer commonly used in vinyl products, but opinions differ about what that means.
Industry officials said the levels of all phthalates, including the one highest in children di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate, are well below safety thresholds set by the government. But some environmental and public health groups said the results are troubling because DEHP is among the most toxic of phthalates.
The study, released Jan. 31 by the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, looked at 116 chemicals in the blood and urine of 2,500 people in the United States.
The report is the U.S. government's first attempt to document chemical exposure in the general population, but does not draw conclusions about whether the exposure exceeds safe levels.
The study ``confirms that the average dose of all the measured phthalates are well below the safety levels established by government regulatory agencies, levels that already have a built-in safety factor of 100-1,000,'' according to the Phthalate Esters Panel, a unit of the American Chemistry Council. ACC is in Arlington, Va.
Besides being used in plastics, phthalates are used widely in consumer products such as nail polish, hair spray and detergent.