by Julia Lurie, Mother Jones
Dr. Eric Mallow, a neonatologist and researcher at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, has long suspected that preterm infants are being overexposed to chemicals in the plastic medical equipment intended to nurse them to health.
Phthalate plasticizers are chemicals added to plastics to make them durable and pliable, and Mallow was concerned about a chemical called DEHP. The only phthalate plasticizer allowed in medical equipment, it helps soften breathing tubes, intravenous (IV) lines, fluid bags, and catheters. Mallow had read studies showing overexposure to DEHP to be associated not only with hormonal disruption (similar to the effect of BPA, another plasticizer) but with nonhormonal effects like liver damage, a problem common in preemies. He had noticed that if a breathing tube was in a patient for a long time, it came out stiffer than when he put it in. DEHP, which doesn’t chemically bind to the plastic of the tube, had leaked out. Read the entire story.