Phthalates impact human health: Epidemiological evidences and plausible mechanism of action

J Hazard Mater. 2017 Oct 15;340:360-383. doi: 10.1016/j.jhazmat.2017.06.036. Epub 2017 Jun 19.


Disregarding the rising alarm on the hazardous nature of various phthalates and their metabolites, ruthless usage of phthalates as plasticizer in plastics and as additives in innumerable consumer products continues due low their cost, attractive properties, and lack of suitable alternatives. Globally, in silico computational, in vitro mechanistic, in vivo preclinical and limited clinical or epidemiological human studies showed that over a dozen phthalates and their metabolites ingested passively by man from the general environment, foods, drinks, breathing air, and routine household products cause various dysfunctions. Thus, this review addresses the health hazards posed by phthalates on children and adolescents, epigenetic modulation, reproductive toxicity in women and men; insulin resistance and type II diabetes; overweight and obesity, skeletal anomalies, allergy and asthma, cancer, etc., coupled with the description of major phthalates and their general uses, phthalate exposure routes, biomonitoring and risk assessment, special account on endocrine disruption; and finally, a plausible molecular cross-talk with a unique mechanism of action. This clinically focused comprehensive review on the hazards of phthalates would benefit the general population, academia, scientists, clinicians, environmentalists, and law or policy makers to decide upon whether usage of phthalates to be continued swiftly without sufficient deceleration or regulated by law or to be phased out from earth forever.

Keywords: Endocrine disruption; Epidemiological and clinical evidences; Health impact; Molecular signaling mechanism; Phthalates.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Endocrine Disruptors / analysis
  • Endocrine Disruptors / toxicity*
  • Environmental Monitoring
  • Epigenomics
  • Humans
  • Hypersensitivity / epidemiology
  • Overweight / epidemiology
  • Phthalic Acids / analysis
  • Phthalic Acids / toxicity*
  • Plasticizers / analysis
  • Plasticizers / toxicity*
  • Risk Assessment


  • Endocrine Disruptors
  • Phthalic Acids
  • Plasticizers