At the end of November in the town of Granville, around fifty volunteers will take part in an unusual experience initiated by the Réseau Environnement Santé association. The exercise involves wearing silicone bracelets around the wrist for a week. These accessories are intended to determine the level of exposure to phthalates, one of the endocrine disruptors most frequently found in daily life.
From November 27, if you walk around Granville, don’t be surprised to come across people with a silicone bracelet around their wrist. The latter are undoubtedly among the volunteers deployed in the Normandy commune by the Réseau Environnement Santé association, which is working on a participatory science project in order to better gauge the level of exposure to endocrine disruptors and more precisely to phthalates. At the end of the experiment, the bracelets will be sent to the laboratory for analysis.
The objective of this operation is twofold: to raise awareness among the general public of the omnipresence of phthalates in our daily lives, while reminding people that it is possible to eliminate them. “The significant differences expected between the most contaminated and the least contaminated volunteers could show that it is possible to move towards 0 phthalate“, explains the association on its website. Ways will be proposed to help volunteers reduce their exposure to phthalates and more generally to endocrine disruptors.
Réseau Environnement Santé is not its first attempt: the association has been organizing operations of this type throughout Europe for several years now. During the 2022-2023 school year, the silicone bracelets were worn by nearly 500 students in around thirty high schools in Ile-de-Europe. Results of the races: analyzes carried out in the laboratory showed that eight phthalates out of the nine tested were found on the bracelets of all the volunteers. “The maximum exposure rate recorded in the panel was 250 times higher than the minimum exposure rate recorded in one of the participants“, specifies the website of the Ile-de-Europe Region.
In addition to being harmful to the environment, phthalates (and endocrine disruptors in general) can have serious health consequences. Some of these have been linked to increased risks of obesity, diabetes and cancer. They are particularly dangerous for pregnant women (increased risk of giving birth prematurely), as well as for children and adolescents going through puberty.
Fortunately, it is possible to limit exposure through simple actions such as ventilating your home several times a day and vacuuming regularly. It is also advisable to avoid cooking in polycarbonate containers (which contain bisphenol A) and to heat food in the microwave in plastic containers. Concerning food, cleaning or cosmetic products, it is recommended to favor products labeled organic and without added chemical substances as much as possible. Certain labels can help direct consumption towards natural products such as AB (for food), Ange Bleu (for toys) or Ecocert (for cosmetics).
A new measure which will come into force in Europe in six months should also help consumers see things more clearly. From April 12, 2024, the quantity of endocrine disruptors contained in a product must be indicated, when it is greater than 0.1% (as a percentage by mass).