Home » Plasticizer: “You shouldn’t find a substance like that in your body – and we find it”

Plasticizer: “You shouldn’t find a substance like that in your body – and we find it”

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Plasticizer: “You shouldn’t find a substance like that in your body – and we find it”

Health substance in urine samples

“You shouldn’t find a substance like that in your body – and we find it.”

As of: 11:39 a.m. | Reading time: 2 minutes

According to the Federal Environment Agency, the pollutant has so far been discovered in 28 percent of the samples

Quelle: picture alliance / Shotshop

It sounds like a detective story: authorities detect a harmful substance in urine samples, some of which are years old, and in unusually high quantities. The substance has been largely banned in the EU for a long time. Experts cite several possible reasons for the stress.

The Federal Environment Agency (Uba) has discovered evidence of a dangerous plasticizer in the urine of numerous people in Germany, which has been strictly regulated and largely banned for years. In the currently ongoing 6th German Environmental Health Study, the metabolite MnHexP has been discovered in 28 percent of the samples, said Uba toxicologist Marika Kolossa.

It is a breakdown product of the plasticizer di-n-hexyl phthalate (DnHexP). The reproductive-damaging metabolite was first discovered in samples in 2023. “You shouldn’t find a substance like that in the body – and we find it,” said Kolossa.

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The results of an investigation into samples in North Rhine-Westphalia were recently announced. “It is a problem of larger proportions,” said Kolossa. The origin of the plasticizer is currently unknown. “This is a real detective story. We are now searching at full level in Germany.” The Federal Environment Agency is also working closely with EU authorities to find the source.

Increased risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity

According to the results of animal experiments, the metabolite is a reproductively harmful substance, said Kolossa. It primarily affects the reproductive organs of male fetuses in the womb. But it could also be harmful to adults and increase the risk of diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity, which is shown by further animal experiments. Concentrations “that are so high that a health risk cannot be ruled out” have been discovered in individual people.

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DnHexP has been severely restricted or banned in the EU for many years. Under certain circumstances, the substance could still occur in the EU, for example in imported products that contain the substance, said chemicals expert Lars Tietjen from Uba. It could possibly also be preserved in old products produced in the EU. “I don’t have any evidence of larger quantities being processed, but it can’t be ruled out.”

In North Rhine-Westphalia, experts from the State Office for Nature, Environment and Consumer Protection (Lanuv) retroactively examined old urine samples from kindergarten children. Result: During the study period, the proportion of samples contaminated with MnHeP increased from 26 percent (2017/18) to 61 percent (2020/21), according to a statement from Lanuv dated January 31st. The concentration in highly stressed children increased approximately tenfold. The reason for this is completely unclear.

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The results were not related to where the children lived, said a Lanuv spokeswoman. There are significantly increased values ​​throughout the state.

According to Lanuv, the plasticizer DnHexP has been on the list of substances of very high concern in the European Union since 2013. This phthalate is therefore no longer permitted as a plasticizer in cosmetic products, food contact materials and toys.

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