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Diethylhexyl phthalate

Introduction: What are phthalates?

    Consumption of plasticisers in Europe in 2008
    Consumption of plasticisers in Europe in 2008

    Phthalates are plasticisers that are added to other materials to make them softer and more flexible.

    They are widely used in a range of polymers such as PVC that are found in a wide variety of consumer products including floor- and wall covering, furnishing, toys, car interior, clothing, hoses etc. Phthalates are also added to paints and lacquers, adhesives and sealants, printing inks etc.

    Because phthalates are not chemically bound to the material they are added to, they can be released from the products that contain them, for instance into water and air. The emission of phthalates occurs during all the stages of the life cycle of a product from production, through use, to disposal.

    A range of different phthalates exist, each having specific properties, applications, and potential health effects.

    Five of the most widely used phthalates are di-(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP), dibutyl phthalate (DBP), di-isononyl phthalate (DINP), di-isodecyl phthalate (DIDP) and benzyl butyl phthalate (BBP). These phthalates have been assessed within an EU program on Risk Assessment for new and existing chemical substances.

    In Europe, between 1990 and 1995, the average annual consumption of plasticisers was 970 000 tonnes, of which 894 000 tonnes were phthalates. For comparison, the worldwide plasticiser consumption is estimated at 3.5 million tonnes.

    The phthalates described in this digest are used mainly as plasticisers in PVC products. More...

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