Plastic medical aids found to be unsafe

The China Post news staff

A majority of auxiliary medical devices tested in a survey were discovered to contain environmental hormones well over the national health standard, according to research findings by the Department of Chemistry at Tsinghua University.

The university research staff tested nine auxiliary medical devices and discovered that the level of phthalates, more commonly known as “plasticizers,” of six of the tested equipments were between 2.5 to 49 percent, well over the standard deemed safe by the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) for children’s toys, which is 0.1 percent. Tsinghua University Chemistry Professor Ling Yung-chien urged the government to note the gravity of the problem and to help prevent its prevalence in order to safeguard public health. Ling said that while phthalates in children’s toys pose a threat through touch or accidental consumption, plasticizers in medical equipment — such as plastic blood bags — are often directly inserted into the body, greatly increasing the chances of toxic absorption. The government should start an initiative promoting anti-environmental hormone hospitals that provide medical aids free from the thermoplastic polymer, PVC (polyvinyl chloride), Ling said. Using standards set by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, researchers at Tsinghua University and the Environmental Quality Protection Foundation tested nine auxiliary medical devices and found that six contained high levels of phthalates — four were found with Di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP) levels between 2.5 to 4.9 percent and two with diisononyl phthalate (DINP) levels between 16 to 29.1 percent. The tested items include a stoma bag (used for draining excess fluid after surgery), a nutrition infusion set (device infused in patients after surgery to provide them with nutrition), two bags used to collect liquid medical waste, an IV infusion set and a blood bag. Ling said much of the nation’s plastic medical equipment uses PVC, which often contains plasticizers. The professor listed the side effects of the environmental hormones, such as reducing fertility, suppressing the immune system, causing neurobehavioral changes, breast cancer, endometriosis, prostate cancer, testicular cancer or resulting in hyperactive children or those with lowered learning abilities.

Such symptoms will further endanger the health of patients who are already ill, he cautioned, pushing for government action.