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A new study found that synthetic chemicals known as phthalates, which can be found in items such as makeup, perfume, shampoo, and food storage containers, have been linked to between 91,000 to 107,000 premature deaths per year among people, ages 55 to 64, in the United States, CNN reports.   

“This study adds to the growing database on the impact of plastics on the human body and bolsters public health and business cases for reducing or eliminating the use of plastics,” lead author Dr. Leonardo Trasande, a professor of pediatrics, environmental medicine and population health at NYU Langone Health in New York City said.

The study points to a decades-old belief that these chemicals can interfere with hormone production, and circulate to influence processes throughout the body. The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences notes that phthalates have been “linked with developmental, reproductive, brain, immune, and other problems.” 

Phthalates are considered “everywhere chemicals” since they exist in practically everything. They can be found in the plastic of children’s toys because they allow for these items to become harder to break, as well as soap and shampoos because they make a fragrance last longer. Exposure to these chemicals occur when they are breathed in, or when someone consumes something that has been in contact with the plastic.  

“Much of the content within Trasande et al’s latest study is demonstrably inaccurate,” Eileen Conneely, senior director of chemical products and technology for the American Chemistry Council, which represents the U.S. chemical, plastics and chlorine industries, told CNN in a statement. 

Conneely argues that all phthalates were grouped together in the study, which doesn’t take lower toxicity phthalates, like DINP and DIDP, into account. “Studies such as these fail to consider all phthalates individually and consistently ignore or downplay the existence of science-based, authoritative conclusions regarding the safety of high molecular weight phthalates,” Conneely added.

In order to reduce exposure to phthalates, people are advised to use unscented products, drink or eat from glass, stainless steel, ceramic or wood items, and avoid all plastics labeled as No. 3, No. 6 and No. 7.