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Diethylhexyl phthalate

2. How is DEHP used?

    The source document for this Digest states:


    The global production of DEHP in 1994, was estimated to be between 1 and 4 million tonnes/year. The production volume of DEHP in Western Europe was 595,000 tonnes/year in 1997. Recent information from industry (May 2005) shows that the use of DEHP in the EU has decreased to 221,000 in 2004, whilst the use of the phthalates DINP and DIDP have increased during the same period. Some 800 plants in EU use DEHP or preparations with DEHP.

    The main use of DEHP is as a plasticizer in polymer products (in EU this is more than 95% of the total use of DEHP), mainly in flexible PVC. The content of DEHP in flexible polymer materials varies but is typically around 30% (w/w). Flexible PVC is used in many different articles e.g. toys, building material such as flooring, cables, profiles and roofs, as well as in medical products such as blood bags and dialysis equipment. DEHP is also used in other polymer products and in non-polymer formulations and products. DEHP is known to migrate slowly from polymer products during their entire lifetime. The main stages identified and considered in the risk assessment include:

    • Production of DEHP – DEHP is produced at a handful of chemical plants in EU.
    • Formulation of polymers – Mixing DEHP with polymers or other materials to compounds or master-batches. This may take place at the processing site or at a separate site.
    • Processing of polymers – A large number of different technologies are used to process polymers with DEHP, for example calendering, extrusion, injection moulding and several plastisol applications including various moulding and coating technologies.
    • Formulation of non-polymers – The production of sealants, adhesives, paints, lacquers, printing inks and ceramics.
    • Industrial use of non-polymers – The industrial or professional use of sealants, adhesives, paints, lacquers, printing inks and ceramics.
    • End-use of products (articles) containing DEHP – The emission of DEHP from products in use, for example from roofing, PVC-coated fabric and car under-coatings.

    Waste management including:

    • Waste management including:
    • Paper recycling – The de-inking of recycled paper is assumed to be a potential local release source.
    • Car shredding – Shredding of disposed vehicles is a potential source for release of DEHP (from car-undercoating and cables).
    • Incineration of DEHP containing products – DEHP can be found in the exhaust air, gas-cleaning residues, slag and fly-ash.
    • Disposal on land fills of DEHP containing products – Municipal landfills are known to emit DEHP (mainly through the leakage water).
    • "Waste remaining in the environment" – This is particles/fragments abraded from end-use products during their service life and during disposal (e.g. particles abraded from car undercoating, coil coating, shoe soles and fragments of plastic bags).

    This implies multiple sources of DEHP emissions. The main part of DEHP emissions originates from use and disposal of polymer products. These emissions are widely dispersed, and monitoring data of DEHP in environmental samples confirm a widespread occurrence.

    Source & ©: ECB,
     "Bis-(2-Ethylhexyl) Phthalate, DEHP), Summary Risk Assessment report" , 2008. p.5.

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