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An Innovative Multidisciplinary Research Project

Phthalates are high production volume chemicals, used to make poly vinyl chloride more processible and flexible. The phthalates in many consumer products leach out into the environment. Consequently, human exposure to phthalates is widespread, yet the extent and full nature of their effects on either the environment or human health are not known. Animal studies have shown that phthalates act as endocrine disruptors at environmentally relevant concentrations; in utero exposures result in abnormal development of the male reproductive system. Epidemiological studies have reported an association between phthalate exposure during pregnancy and an elevated incidence of hypospadias in the offspring.

There are two studies of the relationship between phthalates and reduced male fertility with differing conclusions; the basis for the difference is unclear. More research is essential to understand the extent to which these compounds disrupt the endocrine system and, more specifically, adversely affect male reproduction.

Our Studies: Chemical Engineering | Cell Lines | Animal | Clinical | Ethics

Our studies will provide essential information with respect to (i) the identification of safer new “green” replacement plasticizers, (ii) the development and validation of highly valuable new toxicity test platforms for putative male reproductive toxicants, (iii) the relationship between phthalates and human male infertility and (iv) knowledge translation strategies to make this information accessible to regulators, policy makers and the public.

Message from the Principal Investigator

We are pleased to introduce our CIHR multidisciplinary research project on Plasticizers. Our group is committed to finding alternatives to the family of phthalate plasticizers that are now well recognized as endocrine disruptors. Bringing together expertise from colleagues in chemical engineering, analytical chemistry, toxicology, reproductive biology, clinical medicine, policy, ethics, and law, our approach is to identify novel plasticizers and establish their safety prior to promoting them as commercial products. The underlying philosophy of our team is to develop and test chemicals for safety, for humans and the environment, prior to releasing them in the marketplace.

-- Bernard Robaire, PhD, Professor of Pharmacology and Therapeutics and Obstetrics and Gynecology at McGill University

  • McGill University
  • MUHC McGill University Health Centre
  • York University
  • The University of Western Ontario
  • IWK Health Centre
  • Université Laval University