Phthalates (pronounced THAL-ates) are chemicals added to plastics used in a wide array of household items from flooring to furniture, plates to plastic wrap, and kids’ toys to tubing. It’s everywhere. While once thought a harmless chemical, studies are continually linking this chemical to negative health effects.

A recent study published in The Journal of Pediatrics found that dietary exposure to a certain phthalate, DEHP (di-2-ethylhexylphthalate), was linked to elevated blood pressure in children and teens.

“Phthalates can inhibit the function of cardiac cells and cause oxidative stress that compromises the health of arteries. But no one has explored the relationship between phthalate exposure and heart health in children,” noted Leonardo Trasande, MD, lead author. “We wanted to examine the link between phthalates and childhood blood pressure in particular given the increase in elevated blood pressure in children and the increasing evidence implicating environmental exposures in early development of disease.”

When will people start to listen to studies like these? It seems as though study after study is released only to fall on deaf ears. Trasande seems to agree, “Our study underscores the need for policy initiatives that limit exposure to disruptive environmental chemicals, in combination with dietary and behavioral interventions geared toward protecting cardiovascular health.” I’m hoping for sooner rather than later.