(HealthDay News) – Exposure to some phthalates has fallen over the last decade and may be associated with bans on their use, according to a study published online Jan. 15 in Environmental Health Perspectives.

Ami R. Zota, ScD, from George Washington University in Washington, DC, and colleagues analyzed urinary concentrations of 11 phthalate metabolites from 2001–2010 using data from 11,071 participants from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

The researchers found that least square geometric mean concentrations of monoethyl phthalate, mono-n-butyl phthalate, monobenzyl phthalate, and di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate metabolites decreased over this period by 17–42%. The latter three compounds were permanently banned starting in January 2009, the authors note. In contrast, concentrations of monoisobutyl phthalate, mono(3-carboxypropyl) phthalate, monocarboxyoctyl phthalate, and monocarboxynonyl phthalate increased by 15–206%. The concentrations of several metabolites were initially higher in children, but became similar in adults and children over time.

“U.S. population exposure to phthalates has changed in the last decade,” Zota and colleagues conclude. “Data gaps make it difficult to explain trends but legislative activity and advocacy campaigns by nongovernmental organizations may play a role.”

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