News Brief

Phthalates Linked to Lower IQ Scores in Children

August 30, 2010

Phthalates, which can be absorbed through the skin, are often found in flexible vinyl products, such as the flooring material in this classroom.

Photo: Edi Chandra
A recent study conducted in South Korea is the first to find a correlation between the levels of two common phthalates—DEHP (di-(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate) and DBP (dibutyl phthalate)—and IQ scores in children. After accounting for several variables—including maternal IQ, living situation, birth weight, and sex—children with higher concentrations of the metabolites of these two chemicals in their urine had lower IQ scores than their peers. The study, which looked at a sample of 624 children between the ages of eight and eleven, focused on children because their developing nervous systems are more susceptible to the negative effects of phthalates, which are used as plasticizers in flexible vinyl, PVC products, adhesives, coatings, and some wood products. Most exposure to phthalates through building products happens through inhalation or skin contact. The study, “Relationship between Environmental Phthalate Exposure and the Intelligence of School-Age Children,” was published in the July issue of

Environmental Health Perspectives and can be found at ehponline.org.

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