WELLNESS--Most people think that if there is pollution in the air they need to protect their lungs. A new study has found that when it comes to certain toxic chemicals, the skin is proving to be the organ absorbing them and sending them into the blood stream. The skin is the bodies largest organ and environmental engineer John Kissel of the University of Washington in Seattle has been quoted as saying the skin may serve as “big sponges for certain chemicals.”
Some of the most damaging compounds absorbed by the skin are called Phthalates. Phthalates are a family of chemicals used widely as solvents and added to plastics to increase their flexibility. In past studies, this chemical has been linked to changes in reproductive organs, and mental instability especially in newborn infants.
Phthalates are used in the equipment that babies are exposed to in the hospital, and studies have shown the negative effects of these chemicals on a newborns system including changes in reproductive organs and mental activity.
Depending on a couple different variables, the study showed that there are varying degrees of absorption of these chemicals. Phthalates pass through the skin easily, and the more skin exposed to phthalate-laden air, the more the chemicals are absorbed into the blood stream.
The study exposed 6 men to two different phthalates for two sessions of 6 hours each. There were two different types of phthalates used in the study, diethyl phthalate (DEP) and dinbutyl (DnBP). The first is a common chemical used in personal-care products including perfumes, cosmetics, and shampoos. The second is more commonly used as a solvent and occurs in plastics, adhesives, and lubricants.
They started by exposing the men to high levels of this compound in the air and then testing their blood to see how much of the chemicals got into their blood streams. They wore technical hoods that brought in oxygen to ensure that any increase of these chemicals in the blood level was brought on by skin absorption and not from breathing.
They also put the men in shorts to ensure their entire bodies were exposed to the chemicals. The results showed that for one of the chemicals the exposure to the skin increased that chemical in the blood equally to breathing it in. For the second chemical the absorption rate was 80% compared to lung exposure.
They did not want to put the subjects in great danger, so they limited the exposure to 6 hours, but the scientists agreed that if they were to double the exposure or more, the amount of chemicals entering the blood would have most likely quadrupled in their blood streams.
These chemicals have been tied to studies in the past showing slight feminization of newborn males and low birth weights, and this study may prove why. Neonatal ICU’s have phthalate-based tubing and plastics exposing newborn babies when they are most susceptible. It is not only babies that are at risk. We are all exposed to these dangerous chemicals regularly, but there is a way to avoid or at least reduce your exposure to these chemicals.
Vol 13 Issue 91
Pub: Nov 10, 2015