The use of plastic films in agricultural systems outside Europe has increased phthalate contamination in food, such as Vegetables grown in Plastic Greenhouses (VPGs) in China. VPGs in China are not subject to REACH regulations, thereby posing a risk of adverse health effects caused by phthalate contamination from traded food into the EU. This project will propose four objectives: 1) Quantifying the risk cycle of phthalate transfer driven by food trade between the EU and China; 2) Quantifying phthalate exposure caused by consuming VPGs imported from China and the proportion of total daily phthalate exposure; 3) Quantifying health impacts associated with phthalate exposure from VPG consumption traded with China; and 4) Verifying whether existing regulations in the EU, and country-specific regulations, protect humans from exposure to phthalates and if not, to provide science-based support for alternative policy measures. The proposed research has the potential to supplement our understanding of phthalate exposure from international food trade. Results of this project will inspire new insights into the environmental management of global plasticulture from a life cycle perspective.
Dr. Yanxia Zhang has an inter-disciplinary background of environmental exposure and socioeconomics. Her main research focuses on environment pollutants transportation, transformation, exposure and human health risks. Dr Zhang got her PhD from the School of the Environment at Nanjing University, China, in 2015, and finished her Postdoc at the Institute of Soil Science, Chinese Academy of Sciences in 2019. She started work in Nanjing Normal University, China, in 2020.