Phthalates are not a single chemical, there is an entire family of them and they do not behave in the same way.
Phthalates are plasticizers which are added to make plastic soft and flexible and can be found in many products, eg plastic packaging, garden hoses, plastic and vinyl toys, shower curtains, certain wallpapers, vinyl flooring, adhesives and plastic pipes. They can also be found in detergents, nail polish, hairsprays, lotions, and fragrances..
Three of them, benzyl butyl phthalate (BBP), dibutyl phthalate (DBP) and di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP), are already permanently banned from toys and products intended to help children under 3 sleep, eat, teethe, or suck. Three more, diisodecyl phthalate (DIDP), diisononyl phthalate (DINP), and di-n-octyl phthalate (DnOP), are under an interim ban from toys that can go into a child’s mouth.
On 11 July 2018 The European Commission adopted a Decision to amend the REACH Regulation and restrict the use of the phthalates, DEHP, BBP, DBP and DIBP in consumer products on the EU market. The substances are on the REACH candidate list of SVHCs for their reprotoxic as well as endocrine disrupting properties. The Commission said its adoption will “complement” the existing restriction on three other phthalates – DINP, DIDP and DnOP – in toys and childcare articles.
The restriction, which will take effect from 8 July 2020, was unanimously agreed by member states on 11 July 2018 and has been undergoing scrutiny from the European Parliament and Council of Ministers.
The health effects of exposure to phthalates are being studied by several government agencies. Some phthalates are already known to be endocrine disrupting chemicals whereas some can cause cancer. In addition it is thought that some phthalates may affect human reproduction or development.
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