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Abstracts: ISEE 20th Annual Conference, Pasadena, California, October 12–16, 2008: Contributed Abstracts

The Role of Exposure to Phthalates from Polyvinyl Chloride Products in the Development of Asthma and Allergies: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Jaakkola, J JK; Knight, T L

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doi: 10.1097/01.ede.0000339911.06943.fd
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There are suggestions that phthalates from polyvinylchloride (PVC) plastics have adverse effects on airways and immunological systems, but the evidence has not been reviewed systematically.


To review the evidence for the role of exposure to phthalates from PVC products in the development of asthma and allergies.


We conducted a Medline database search (1950-May 2007) for relevant studies on the respiratory and allergic effects of exposure to phthalates from PVC products.


The review was based on 27 human and 14 laboratory toxicology studies. Two mouse inhalation experiments indicated that MEHP has the ability to modulate the immune response to exposure to a co-allergen. A NOEL (30 μg MEHP/m3) was suggested and calculated to be below the estimated level of human exposure in common environments. Case reports and series (n = 9) identified and verified cases of asthma which were with high probability caused by fumes emitted from PVC film. Epidemiologic studies in adults (n = 10), most small studies in occupational settings, showed associations between heated PVC fumes and asthma and respiratory symptoms, and in children (n = 5) an association between PVC surface materials in the home and the risk of asthma (fixed-effects model: summary OR 1.55, 95%CI 1.18–2.05, 4 studies) and allergies (1.32, 95%CI 1.09–1.60, 3 studies).


High levels of phthalates from PVC products can modulate the murine immune response to a co-allergen. Heated PVC fumes possibly contribute to development of asthma in adults. Epidemiologic studies in children show associations between indicators of phthalate exposure in the home and risk of asthma and allergies.

© 2008 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.