Why You Should Care About DEHP in Catheters

There is a growing trend across the United States for living healthy, eating healthy, selecting organic foods, and avoiding unnecessary contact with harmful chemicals.

It’s not just what you eat that can affect your health. Many people do not know that some medical supplies can contain harmful chemicals. Unfortunately, not as much awareness exists about chemicals found in medical supplies like many brands of intermittent catheters or other disability products that you may use on a daily basis.

The American Nurses Association has made strong statements about their concerns with chemicals that are known to cause cancer or known to cause reproductive harm in men, especially in relation to a chemical called DEHP.

DEHP (Di(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate) is a chemical commonly used in traditional catheter manufacturing. The chemical is a plastic softener that is often used in the manufacturing process to make PVC more flexible.

In an article in American Nurse Today, registered nurse Susan Trossman says, “the American Nurses Association (ANA) and state-based constituent member association (CMA) leaders want nurses to consider this: Many chemicals in products—such as di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP) used to soften plastic … are not innocuous. These and other chemicals can affect the health of nurses and patients by direct contact or indirect environmental exposure.”

For the last 11 years, the ANA has encouraged hospitals and healthcare professionals to switch to medical devices that are not made with DEHP, according to a public statement on the ANA website, “The American Nurses Association (ANA) joins with Health Care Without Harm (HCWH), a coalition for environmentally responsible health care, in urging hospitals, manufacturers, and healthcare professionals to switch to DEHP-free medical devices in order to protect sick infants and other at-risk patients.”

For the last 15 years, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has warned health care providers to use alternatives to DEHP-containing devices, too.  And, since 1987, the state of California has listed DEHP on their Proposition 65 registry as a known carcinogen and a chemical known to cause reproductive harm in men.

The health risk from DEHP is severe enough that the federal government has also removed and banned it from being used in children’s toys due to the chemical’s ability to be absorbed through the mouth and skin.
Unfortunately, DEHP is still found in many intermittent catheters on the market today.

According to Expert urologist Dr. Gerard Henry, “Catheter users should care about DEHP and BPA, because they are known carcinogens and known to cause reproductive harm.” Dr. Henry continues, “As a medical professional, my first rule is to Do No Harm,” he continues. “If I was discussing with my medical colleagues what they were prescribing, if they were still prescribing catheters that are made with DEHP, I would refer them to that landmark study from Craig Hospital in Denver. Anything you can do to avoid known carcinogens is a good idea.”

Don’t despair, the good news is that a large selection of quality-made, user-friendly intermittent catheters exist today that are not made with DEHP. Rely Medical Supply is proud to partner with Cure Medical to provide DEHP-free catheters to our customers. In fact, Cure Medical catheters have never been made with DEHP, since the company was created more than 10 years ago.

If you use catheters, we urge you to check to see if the catheters you use contain DEHP. If you’d like to learn more about DEHP-free catheters, the representatives at Rely Medical Supply are ready to assist you. Call us toll-free at (888) 529-2308 for assistance.