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Environ Health Perspect. 1997 Sep;105(9):972-8.

Residential exposure to plasticizers and its possible role in the pathogenesis of asthma.

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  • 1National Institute of Public Health, Department of Population Health Sciences, Oslo, Norway.


The plasticizer di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP) is widely used in building materials. DEHP is identified as the major plasticizer exposure in dwellings. We provide evidence that inhalation exposure to DEHP as aerosols adsorbed to particulate matter is as important, or more important, than vapor phase exposure. The particulate inhalation exposure to DEHP is considered to be significant due to its low clearance and extensive penetration into the pulmonary region. DEHP is capable of creating high local concentrations in the airways at the deposition site with subsequent local effects. The proposed mechanism of effect states that mono(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (MEHP), the primary hydrolysis product of DEHP, mimics the inducing prostaglandins (PG) PGD(2), 9alpha,11betaPGF2, and PGF2alpha, and thromboxanes in the lungs, thereby increasing the risk of inducing inflammation in the airways, which is a characteristic of asthma.

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