Vinyl Flooring and Phthalates Linked to Autism in New Study

TreeHugger has been reporting for years about the dangers of phthalates, the endocrine disruptor that is used to make vinyl flexible. We have noted previously that it might cause "phthalate syndrome"- smaller penises, and undescended or incompletely descended testicles- in humans.

Now a new study links it to autism. Scientific American says that the Swedish study was looking for something else, a relationship between phthalates and allergies, but found that "Infants or toddlers who lived in bedrooms with vinyl, or PVC, floors were twice as likely to have autism five years later, in 2005, than those with wood or linoleum flooring."

Other contributing factors appear to be smoking and condensation on windows, an indicator of poor ventilation that could be exacerbating the effects of both.

The Commercial Flooring Network and the Resilient Floor Covering Institute (there is an institute for everything) will tell you that vinyl is safe, that

Independent scientists, international governmental bodies and phthalate producers have conducted extensive studies on the safety of phthalates – the plasticizers used to make vinyl flexible. In more than 40 years of study and use, phthalates have never been shown to cause harm to humans from their normal, intended use.

Well now there are two studies, this one and the Phthalate Syndrome one, that directly contradict them. Not to mention other studies that go back a bit farther;

In a recent interview in Azure, Michael Brauntgart said:

In 1982 I showed that the plasticizers used in PVC destroy fertility, and now 20% of the males in a city like Hamburg are sterile. Now we know that these chemicals don't just impact on fertility and disrupt the endocrine system, they are also closely linked to childhood obesity and juvenile diabetes. How can we let this go on?

We wonder the same thing.

More on vinyl:
Do Babies Exposed to Phthalates Have Smaller Penises?
Greenwash Watch: 12 Ways Vinyl Siding is Green
President Bush Says "Baby, Get That Phthalate-Filled Building Block Out Of Your Mouth!"
Ask Treehugger: What Is An Endocrine Distruptor?

Tags: Chemicals | Plastics