A regimen of prescription pills may explain the highest blood concentration of a phthalate ever observed, medical researchers say. Phthalates are used as solvents, in plastics formulations, and for other purposes.
Last year, Russ Hauser of the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston and his colleagues found that men with high exposures to certain phthalates are likely to have sperm abnormalities (SN: 5/31/03, p. 339: Count Down: Chemicals linked to inferior sperm).
Phthalates are common in people's urine, but how these chemicals get into the body has remained unclear. Contact with phthalate-containing plastics and cosmetics is one likely path of exposure. Oral medications, which are sometimes coated with phthalates to control when the pills dissolve, could be another.
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