The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) classifies DEHP, a chemical in plastics, as a probable human carcinogen. Plastics manufacturers began substituting the chemical about a decade ago in light of this risk, but now new research suggests that replacement chemicals could also be dangerous. The presence of DINP and DIDP, two DEHP substitutes, were linked to high blood pressure in a study published in the journal Hypertension. A study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism also found an association between DINP, DIDP and insulin resistance.
Using urine and blood samples from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, researchers tried to determine if DINP and DIDP were linked to various health conditions. High levels of the DEHP replacements were strongly correlated to insulin resistance and blood pressure. The ailments are both linked to diabetes and other medical conditions.
The lead author of the study is Leonardo Trasande, a professor at New York University. “These data raise substantial concerns about similar health effects due to chemicals used to replace DEHP under the presumption that they don’t have the same, or different, adverse health effects,” he said, according to TIME. “Clearly there’s a need for further research.” In the meantime, Trasande advises against heating plastics in the microwave. He also suggests discarding scratched plastic containers.
There have been other instances where replacement chemicals were found to carry the same risks, TIME reports. BPA, which has been linked to endocrine disruption and other risks, has been replaced by other chemicals in plastics in recent years. However, there is some evidence suggesting that substitutes have the same issues. Trasande points out that chemicals are “innocent until proven guilty,” and states that “What we need here is a reform that tests chemicals proactively before they’re used on the open market,” according to TIME.