< Dr. Weschler’s Research on Dermal Uptake of Phthalates Featured in Nature’s Current Issue - EOHSI | EOHSI

Dr. Weschler's Research on Dermal Uptake of Phthalates Featured in Nature's Current Issue

Study participants are exposed to airborne phthalates through the skin.Credit: Lulu Weschler
When the First Defence Fails – Elizabeth Svoboda

Nature, November 21, 2018

Skin is vulnerable to airborne phthalates. Researchers have long known that these hormone-disrupting compounds are dangerous when ingested. But Charles Weschler, who investigates pollutant exposure at Rutgers University in Piscataway, New Jersey, suspected that phthalates might also pose a danger when they leach from household goods into the home environment. To measure how efficiently airborne phthalates are absorbed by skin, Weschler confined a small group of people to rooms filled with air containing elevated levels of phthalates for six hours. In one trial, participants donned a breathing hood so that they inhaled filtered air; in another, they had no hood and were asked to breathe normally.

Weschler found that participants absorbed about the same amount of phthalates — and sometimes even more — through their skin as they did through their lungs4. And he thinks that the level of phthalate absorption by skin might be even more dramatic in real-world settings such as the home, where chemicals accumulate over long periods. “The modelling suggested that if we had kept those experiments going for two days, the uptake would have been five times greater,” he says (Nature – November 22, 2018  Issue)

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Charles J Weschler Ph.D. - Adjunct Professor - Rutgers University - EOHSI