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Lawmakers propose bills to ban medical manufacturers from using toxic material to produce hospital equipment and supplies: 'Exposure ... can have serious health repercussions'

Research has shown that this material can disrupt the male reproductive system and breast cancer treatment.

Research has shown that this material can disrupt the male reproductive system and breast cancer treatment.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Two states are attempting to prohibit medical manufacturers from using a toxic plastic additive in their equipment that can cause adverse health effects.

Environmental Health News reported in April that Californian and Pennsylvanian lawmakers have proposed bills to prevent the production of plastic IV bags, tubing, and other medical devices that contain diethylhexyl phthalate.

"You could say that DEHP is just the first step, but it's a very big step," Janet Nudelman, senior director for program and policy at Breast Cancer Prevention Partners, told the outlet. "It is the plasticizer that you see the most."

The plasticizer is a common ingredient of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and can improve flexibility and reduce brittleness, according to a statement about one of the legislative proposals. However, research has shown that DEHP can disrupt the male reproductive system and breast cancer treatment, Environmental Health News reported.

State Sen. Lisa Boscola of Pennsylvania introduced legislation that would require medical facilities that use devices made with DEHP to notify patients and eventually phase out products with the harmful chemical. "Exposure to DEHP can have serious health repercussions, especially for high-risk patients," she said in a statement.

Meanwhile, California's Assembly Health Committee voted 10-1 in favor of a bill banning DEHP in intravenous solutions containers and tubing, reported EHN. 

DEHP's harmful effects are well documented, as the news outlet noted that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration cautioned the healthcare industry about the chemical two decades ago. Nudelman added that the organization "never acted on its own advice," though. 

As EHN detailed, Japan banned the additive in toys and food-handling gloves in 2001. Europe made it illegal to include it in toys and childcare goods in 2007, and the U.S. did the same a year later. The major health care company Kaiser Permanente stopped buying intravenous medical equipment made with PVC or DEHP in 2012.

Other phthalates, which can be found in most microplastics, can easily be ingested or inhaled, making them difficult to avoid. One study even found phthalates and other plasticizers in nearly all the 85 food products it tested, which included fast-food meals, fruits, vegetables, and dairy products. 

"You get DEHP out of IV bags and tubing, and you're really doing a lot of good," Nudelman said, per EHN. "The idea that we should be pumping a toxic chemical into a patient who is already sick … is outrageous."

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