The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is to reconsider its approval of ortho-phthalates in food packaging and handling equipment.
The move comes in response to a request from environmental, consumer and public health groups, including the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Center for Science in the Public Interest, and the Center for Environmental Health.
It is expected that the FDA will withdraw approval of 30 toxic chemicals being used in cellophane, paper and paperboard, and plastics used for food packaging.
The FDA will have a period of six months to determine if all 30 ortho-phthalates are harmful.
If the finding matches petitioners’ reports, the FDA will ban the use of ortho-phthalates in food packaging.
Ortho-phthalates are a class of chemically and pharmacologically related substances that are used as plasticisers, binders, coating agents, defoamers, gasket closures, and slimicide agents.
They are believed to cause a variety of reproductive, developmental and endocrine health problems.
EDF Chemicals Policy director Tom Neltner said: "These chemicals are a serious threat to pregnant woman, their developing foetuses and children.
"But, manufacturers continue to use ortho-phthalates – from farm to fork – even though there are alternatives."