Phthalate researcher to speak on health impacts

A researcher whose study about the connection between eating fast food and toxic chemicals made recent headlines will be speaking at a South Portland event Thursday night.

Dr. Ami Zota is a professor at George Washington University. Her work has found a connection between dining out and increased levels of chemicals in the body, specifically higher levels of hormone-disrupting phthalates. Her study found that people who consumed more restaurant, fast-food and cafeteria meals had nearly 35 percent higher phthalate levels than people who said they ate mostly food purchased at the grocery store.

Zota will be talking about the impacts of phthalate exposure and its implications for children and pregnant women in particular. Phthalate exposure is linked to reproductive issues, learning disabilities and behavioral problems in children. It’s particularly prevalent in lower-income communities.

Her speech will be the keynote at Celebration for Our Health Future, an annual event benefiting the Portland-based public health organization Environmental Health Strategy Center. It’s being held at Congregation Bet Ha’am in South Portland.

Tickets cost $25 for adults, $10 for students and elected officials. Reserve by calling 699-5789 or visit


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