Low doses of one of the most commonly used softeners in plastics can aggravate dust-mite allergy, researchers report.
The plasticizer di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP) is ubiquitous in air, water, and most people's bodies. It's in plastics used for toys, food packaging, medical products, and housewares.
A few earlier studies had correlated allergy severity with exposure to DEHP in people (SN: 7/24/04, p. 52: Available to subscribers at Dangerous Dust? Chemicals in plastics are tied to allergies). To investigate such associations, physician Hirohisa Takano of the National Institute for Environmental Studies in Tsukuba, Japan, and his colleagues repeatedly injected mice with an allergen produced by dust mites as well as with pure vegetable oil or oil laced with various doses of DEHP.
The allergen, injected into the animals' outer ears, caused swelling, skin thickening, and some wounds at the injection sites. These symptoms were moderately to