Phthalates are a family of chemical compounds primarily used to make polyvinyl chloride (PVC) or vinyl flexible and pliant. Phthalates are used in hundreds of products in our homes, hospitals, cars and businesses. The phthalates widely selected to soften plastics are used because of their strong performance, durability and stability. Because these phthalates plasticizers are bound into the material in which they are added, they do not easily migrate out of the product or evaporate.
Phthalates are the most commonly used plasticizers in the world and are categorized as high and low, depending on their molecular weight.
High phthalates include those with 7-13 Carbon atoms in their chemical backbone, which gives them increased permanency and durability. The most common types of high phthalates include diisononyl phthalate (DINP), diisodecyl phthalate (DIDP) and dipropylheptyl phthalate (DPHP). High phthalates are commonly used in PVC products such as wire and cable, flooring, wall covering, self-adhesive films, synthetic leather, coated fabrics and roofing and automobile applications.
Low phthalates include those with 3-6 carbon atoms in their chemical backbone. The most common types of low phthalates include di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP) and dibutyl phthalate (DBP). Low phthalates are commonly used in medical devices, general purpose PVC, adhesives and inks.
Phthalates are primarily used to make PVC or vinyl flexible and are used in hundreds of products in our homes, hospitals, cars and businesses.
Colorless, odorless phthalates are not only cost effective, but also highly suitable for many flexible vinyl products. Some of their key characteristics include: durability, flexibility, weather resistance and ability to withstand high temperatures.
With a wide range of physical and chemical properties, phthalates are used in a multitude of consumer and industrial products that demand high performance, long-lasting wear and durability. While they can be employed in a variety of applications, these phthalates are not necessarily interchangeable. The characteristics of an individual phthalate often make it well suited to a particular product, allowing manufacturers to meet unique requirements for its use (function and safety specifications), appearance (texture, color, size and shape), and durability and wear. For this reason, substitutions could sacrifice the functionality, quality, longevity, cost or performance of a product.
Phthalates have undergone numerous scientific reviews at government agencies, and the conclusions have been essentially the same: phthalates used in commercial products do not pose a risk to human health at typical exposure levels. Information collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention over the last 10 years indicates that, despite the fact that phthalates are used in many products, exposure is extremely low—significantly lower than any levels of concern set by regulatory agencies.