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Plasticizers are important additives to brittle polymers such as poly(vinyl chloride) (PVC). They are mixed with the resin to make the final product soft and flexible. Plasticizers are not bound to the polymer matrix and will slowly leach out of the blend into the environment. Many studies have shown di (2-ethylhexyl phthalate) (DEHP) and some of its stable metabolites such as its monoester mono (2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (MEHP), 2-ethyl hexanol and 2-ethyl hexanoic acid to be toxic. MEHP is under further scrutiny as it is believed to be an endocrine disruptor. The above-mentioned compounds are generally considered ubiquitous environmental contaminants due to their slow breakdown by soil bacteria. This has led to efforts to design new, “green” plasticizers. See our Team grant website for more details (http://www.medicine.mcgill.ca/cihr-plasticizers/).

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