There is no evidence that DEHP causes serious health effects in humans. Most of what we know about the health effects of DEHP comes from high exposures to rats and mice which may not be representative of the effects on humans. In general effects observed in animals were only from very high and prolonged doses. Exposure to DEHP in air did not result in any observed effects. Exposure in food and water resulted in effects on sperm production, the ability to reproduce and birth defects. Kidney damage similar to the damage seen in the kidneys of long-term dialysis patients has also observed.
DEHP has been classified as a potential carcinogen.
DEHP is one of a range of phthalates which have been suggested as being able to be effect human and animal endocrine systems (endocrine disruptors).
Entering the body
It is possible for DEHP to enter the body by breathing the vapours or by ingesting it directly or through products contaminated by it. Absorption through skin contact is also possible but only very slowly.
Exposure may come from use of medical products packaged in plastic such as blood products (particularly when used extensively, such as for kidney dialysis) eating some foods packaged in certain types of plastics or coated papers (especially fatty foods like milk products, fish and seafood), soils, drinking contaminated water or breathing air containing DEHP where it is used or spilled. Indoor concentrations may be higher because of the presence of products that may emit DEHP (eg plastics).
Time weighted average (TWA): 5 mg/m3
Short time exposure limit (STEL): 10 mg/m3
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