Consumer plastics manufacturers began removing the chemical DEHP from their products about a decade ago, replacing the “probable human carcinogen” with DINP and DIDP, which were believed to be safer. New research shows, however, that the replacement chemicals sitting in for DEHP-free products may be just as dangerous as DEHP itself. 
DEHP, or di-(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate, is used in many products made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic, including imitation leather, rainwear, footwear, upholstery, flooring, tablecloths, shower curtains, food packaging materials, and children’s toys. The chemical is also used in many medical devices such as tubing for blood transfusions, nasogastric feeding tubes, respiratory tubing, and enteral nutrition feeding bags.  
According to the FDA, DEHP has been shown to negatively affect the development of the testicles and the production of normal sperm in young animals, in addition to other health problems. As Mercola explains, DEHP is part of a group of “gender-bending” chemicals that cause males of all species to adopt more female traits.
This poison has also been linked to liver, kidney, and lung problems in animals. While many Americans are unaware that this hazard even exists in their homes, the European Union (EU) takes DEHP so seriously it has banned it from children’s toys. 
Why the Alternative Chemicals Aren’t Any Better
Manufacturers that have removed DEHP from their products have replaced the plasticizer with DINP and DIDP, both of which are also phthalates. Last year, a California state advisory council advised the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment to add DINP to a list of more than 900 potentially dangerous chemicals that consumers should know exist in many of the products they use every day. 
A recent study published in the journal Hypertension found a link between high blood pressure and DIDP and DINP, and the same researchers wrote in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism that they’d found an association between the chemicals and insulin resistance, which can lead to diabetes.
“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,” says study author Leonardo Trasande, a professor at New York University. “Clearly there’s a need for further research.”
In 2012, BPA, another endocrine-disrupting phthalate plasticizer, was banned by the FDA from baby bottles and sippy cups, but it remains in hundreds of other products including water bottles, dental sealants, and cans. The removal of BPA from baby bottles and sippy cups was seen as a huge advancement in public health, but like DEHP, BPA’s replacement chemicals have a nearly identical chemical structure to the original.
Study author and New York University professor Leonardo Trasande told Time that removing “untested chemicals” from the supply is challenging partly because the federal regulatory structure considers chemicals “innocent until proven guilty.” “What we need here is a reform that tests chemicals proactively before they’re used on the open market,” he said.
Until that day (hopefully) comes, all consumers can do to protect themselves is to avoid heating plastics in the microwave and toss scratched plastic containers to protect themselves from phthalate contamination. And of course, avoiding plastics altogether is great all-around.
For the common BPA, there are ways of naturally reversing the effects.
 Time (Featured image courtesy of SAM YEH—AFP/Getty Images and Time)
 Burg Simpson
Julie Fidler is a freelance writer, legal blogger, and the author of Adventures in Holy Matrimony: For Better or the Absolute Worst. She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and two ridiculously spoiled cats. She occasionally pontificates on her blog.