New research discovered that some popular dog toys contain dangerous chemicals—phthalates and bisphenol A (BPA)—that could lead to health problems in pets.
A presentation just made at the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry conference revealed that some of the worst toys are so-called “bumpers”—plastic fetching toys that teach dogs to retrieve, said Discovery News. As part of the study, the researchers simulated both dog saliva and dogs’ chewing actions. By squeezing bumpers and other dog toys with stainless steel salad tongs and weathering bumpers and dog toys outside, the researchers recreated typical dog responses to the toys and also determined if older toys emitted more chemicals, Discovery News explained.
“In the process of training a lab, you do a lot of work with these plastic bumpers,” study co-author, Phil Smith, said. “I have a lot of bumpers in my garage, and they spend a lot of time in the mouths of my retrievers. Well, lots of attention has been given to chemicals in plastics lately regarding their effects on humans. Since we all care about our dogs, and we want them to be as healthy and smart and well-behaved as possible, we decided to look into this.” Smith raises, trains, and hunts with Labrador retrievers and is an associate professor of terrestrial ecotoxicology at The Institute of Environmental and Human Health at Texas Tech University, said Discovery News. Smith collaborated with colleague, Kimberly Wooten.
Smith and Wooten believe dogs’ toys could leach phthalates and bisphenol A (BPA), into dogs’ mouths and bodies, said Discovery News. Both chemicals are known estrogen mimickers and have been linked to a wide array of adverse health effects. “We found that the aging or weathering the toys increased concentrations of BPA and phthalates,” Smith said. “The toys … had some other chemicals that mimicked estrogen. We need to find out what those are,” he added. “The interaction of pet health and environmental chemicals is understudied,” Wooten noted. “What may be a safe dose for one species isn’t always a good measure for another species. But the amount of BPA and phthalates we found from the bumpers would be considered on the high end of what you might find in children’s toys,” Smith added.
As we have long explained, studies continue to link the estrogenic polycarbonate plastics chemical, BPA, to adverse health effects, including links to chromosomal damage and egg development disruption. Because BPA also blocks hormone activity and mimics the powerful female hormone, estrogen, BPA can interrupt sexual development and processes, especially in developing fetuses, infants, children, and teens. Other issues include effects on uterine health and mammalian reproduction; a deadly uterine infection; premature puberty; Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) and other female fertility and endocrine issues; and erectile dysfunction and male sexual problems. BPA’s effects have been found to be immediate, long lasting, and trans-generational, meaning effects could carry years into the future and effects on past generations could harm future generations.
BPA has been linked to increased heart risks, behavior problems, and childhood and teenage obesity. Studies have also linked BPA to a wide and growing range of health effects that seem to affect nearly every bodily system: Brain tumors, hormone-sensitive cancers, brain and social behaviors, increased anxiety and depression, brain cell connection interference, interruptions in chemotherapy treatment, increased risks of immune system diseases and disorders, liver function and intestinal problems, and cardiac issues, gat cell confusion, pancreatic issues relating to diabetes have also been linked to BPA.
Phthalates, which make plastic and vinyl more flexible, bind to cells, altering the production of certain hormones, including insulin and estrogen and interfere with the body’s hormone system. Phthalates may also play a role in childhood obesity and might harm children’s mental and behavioral development, and their muscular coordination. Research has linked phthalates to issues with thyroid function in humans; disruption in pubertal development in young girls, which can lead to later complications; negative behaviors in young children; breast enlargement in boys; and ADHD. In pregnancy, phthalates have been linked to the birth of boys who express less typically masculine behaviors and to an increase in premature births. Phthalates have also been found to exacerbate dermatitis in tests with mammals and on the issues with the development of the male reproductive system including infertility, undescended testes, and testicular development; penis and other reproductive tract malformations, such as hypospadias; and reduced testosterone levels. Some phthalates have been associated with liver cancer and problems with the developing fetus and are known to interfere with androgens; a recent study found that women face increased diabetes risks due to phthalates found in common household products.