Endocrine disruptors: plastic in the hair

Innovation for some, toxic for others, where does the danger of plastic come from, its impact on human health and why is it vital to act to eliminate plastic from our daily lives?

In 2018, more than 40 kg per capita of the planet was produced. Plastic is now everywhere in our daily lives and is even inviting itself into our homes and onto our plates. The chemical toxicity of plastic is linked to the presence of additives, plasticisers, which can easily migrate from the plastic.

In order to act, you need to know and a hair analysis allows you to assess your personal level of exposure to plastic pollution.

Why look for plastic residues in hair?

During its growth, hair incorporates substances to which the body is exposed and is therefore a formidable bio-metrological tool for measuring its exposure.

Amongst the pollutants of our daily environment such as heavy metals, pesticides and flame retardants, plastic additives are substances that are very often measured in the hair. The analysis focuses on measuring the amount of plastic additive present in the hair.

Plasticizers are the markers of plastic pollution and are now recognized as substances of great concern for the environment and human health. Some additives are classified as carcinogenic, reprotoxic and endocrine disruptors but continue to be present on the market.

DEHP (di-ethylhexyl phthalate, CAS 117-81-7), one of the most widely used plastic additives in the plastics industry, is, according to ECHA, toxic for reproduction and can have toxic effects on the unborn child. It is also one of the few substances recognised by the European Union as a known human endocrine disruptor.

"Phthalates and bisphenols harm our fertility

As hair stores information about our exposure over time, its analysis is the easiest way to assess our level of exposure.

Is the decrease in human fertility linked to our exposure to plastic pollution? While it is currently difficult to say, some studies are finding links between infertility and exposure to phthalates.

How are we exposed to phthalates?

Plastics are everywhere and so are phthalates. We are exposed to these toxic substances on a daily basis mainly through our food intake and the air we breathe.

The use of plastic food containers, dishes and cutlery transfers phthalates into the food we eat. The more fatty the food, the more contaminated it is, as phthalates have a strong affinity for fat and remain in contact with plastic over time.

"Phthalates account for over 80% of organic pollution in house dust

Scientific studies on the pollution of domestic environments are unanimous in saying that phthalates are the family of plasticisers most present in the dust we breathe.

Three phthalates, DEHP, DiNP and DiDP, account for 80% of the mass of phthalates measured and are the 3 main organic pollutants in our indoor environment.

Because of the risks of chronic exposure, banning these three phthalates should be the first priority of public health policies!

If any regulation on chemicals were to be tightened, it should concern phthalates. Successfully protecting populations from exposure to toxic substances such as phthalates should also limit the financial impact of the explosion in chronic diseases and the risk it represents for the sustainability of health systems.

How to measure your level of exposure to plastic pollution?

Hair analysis allows you to measure your level of exposure. But to interpret this level, it is essential to have comparative data. These come from :

  • Either from toxicological studies on humans, which provide thresholds at which health effects have been observed (TRV / Toxicological Reference Value);
  • Or from expology studies that provide information on the distribution of measured values in the population.

While the former are very interesting because they propose a direct relationship between a level of exposure and an effect on health, they are very difficult to obtain in humans and often not available.

It is generally easier to obtain data from expology studies. However, they must be adapted to the population studied, ideally at a national level, and must be determined using the same analysis methodology.

"Testing for phthalates in hair is very easy to do".

At present, only a laboratory measurement allows such analysis to be carried out with a high level of reliability. For phthalates, analysis by chromatography coupled with mass spectrometry is the most relevant and accurate.

In its analysis kits, EXPOZOM offers an interpretation of the results in relation to toxicological reference values when available or with expology data from the scientific literature and an internal database.

As exposure to these substances is very frequent and of particular concern, EXPOZOM offers this screening at the best price.

Organic Hair Screening

Hair analysis in laboratory is used to measure exposure to organic pollutants. Order your Test