Languages:
Home » DEHP » Level 2 » Question 3

Diethylhexyl phthalate

3. Can DEHP affect the environment?

  • 3.1 When is DEHP released?
  • 3.2 What happens to DEHP released to the environment?
  • 3.3 What levels of DEHP are expected near the sources?
  • 3.4 What are the effects of DEHP on the environment?
  • 3.5 What are the risks of DEHP to the environment?

3.1 When is DEHP released?

DEHP is released into the environment during production, transport, storage, use and disposal. DEHP is not tightly bound to the polymer used to make plastic or other products, and most of its release in the environment is from the use and final disposal of end-products. More...

The same information on
DBPDIDP-DINP

3.2 What happens to DEHP released to the environment?

DEHP is released into air and waste water from sewage sludge and from solid waste. It enters the air as a vapour or as solid particles. DEHP breaks down quite rapidly in air. Its half-life in the atmosphere is estimated to be 1 day. It breaks down slowly in water, sediment and soil where there is less oxygen. DEHP is not broken down into simple chemicals – the main breakdown product is the monoester ( mono-ethylhexyl phthalate or MEHP), that is known to have adverse effects on reproduction in mammals.

The results of laboratory tests indicate a high potential for bioaccumulation (increasing concentrations over time) of DEHP in organisms that live in water and it binds strongly to sediment, soil and sewage sludge. It does not bioaccumulate in plants. More...

The same information on
DBPDIDP-DINP

3.3 What levels of DEHP are expected near the sources?

Predicted environmental concentrations (PECs) have been calculated for various environmental media located near sources of DEHP. More...

  • At DEHP production sites, concentrations in surface water range from 1 to 220 µg/l and in sediment from 7.5 to 2045 mg/kg.
  • Concentrations in surface water and sediment at non-polymer formulation and processing sites are predicted to be around half those at production sites.
  • Concentrations in surface water and sediment at polymer processing sites are predicted to be lower, by around 10-fold or more, than the concentrations at production sites.
  • Concentrations in surface water and sediment at sewage treatment plants and waste handling sites are lower still, up to 3.6 µg/l in surface water and up to 30 mg/kg in sediment.
  • Predicted environmental concentrations in soil range up to 354 mg/kg at polymer processing sites, up to 103 mg/kg at non-polymer formulation and processing sites, and 3 mg/kg or less for sewage treatment plants and waste handling sites. No figures are given for soil at DEHP production sites.
The same information on
DBPDIDP-DINP

3.4 What are the effects of DEHP on the environment?

Studies have shown that there are no adverse effects on organisms only exposed to DEHP via water, and at concentrations below the water solubility.

Concentrations of DEHP up to 160 mg/kg in food are without any effect on fish. However above this concentration, DEHP can have adverse effects on fish.

It does not have harmful effects on microorganisms in sewage sludge, up to at least 2000 mg/l.

No adverse effects have been observed in soil-dwelling organisms, up to at least 130 mg/kg soil.

The accumulation of the product in the food chain means that top predators might be more at risk. For those top predators, a concentration of 33 mg/kg of food is considered to be without adverse effects, based on tests showing damage to the testis in laboratory animals that were fed a diet with a higher concentrations than 33 mg/kg. For bird reproduction, the concentration without adverse effects is much higher at 1700 mg/kg of food. More...

The same information on
DBPDIDP-DINP

3.5 What are the risks of DEHP to the environment?

There is no concern for aquatic organisms exposed via water, as there are no effects below the water solubility level of DEHP. Similarly there are no concerns for exposure via the atmosphere.

For organisms living in sediment or soil, the predicted concentrations that might be found in the environment are higher than concentrations predicted to have no effect (PNEC), there are also risks for food chains based on organisms living in sediment or soil. The scenarios illustrating possible risks to the food chain were emissions from polymer and non-polymer processing sites, giving predicted environmental concentrations that were higher than predicted no-effect concentrations for birds eating mussels and mammals eating earthworms.

It is concluded that while further information and/or testing would be needed to refine the risk assessment, risk management measures implemented and applied to other environmental media will eliminate the need for further information on organisms living in soil and sediment.

The same information on
DBPDIDP-DINP

FacebookTwitterEmailDownload (9 pages, 0.2 MB)
Themes covered
Publications A-Z
Leaflets