"This study suggests food prepared at home is less likely to contain high levels of phthalates, chemicals linked to fertility problems, pregnancy complications and other health issues," senior author Ami Zota said in a statement. "Our findings suggest that dining out may be an important, and previously under-recognized source of exposure to phthalates for the U.S. population."
The chemicals were particularly higher among adolescents. Teens who ate the most non-homemade foods had phthalates levels 55 percent higher than those who mostly ate at home.
"Pregnant women, children and teens are more vulnerable to the toxic effects of hormone-disrupting chemicals, so it's important to find ways to limit their exposures," coauthor Julia Varshavsky added.
The scientists now hope to continue their investigations to explore the most effective interventions to rid phthalates from the food supply.