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Uses and Applications



Phthalates are primarily used to soften PVC or vinyl 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.

Flexible, Durable and Resistant Products

  • Because phthalates help make PVC resistant to changing weather conditions—maintaining flexibility in cold conditions and resisting degradation in high temperatures—they are used in many outside products, including: swimming pool liners, waterproofing for roofs and footwear, like rain boots.

  • Durability, low volatility, heat resistance and electrical resistivity make phthalates a material of choice for protecting wires that run through homes and offices to charge our computers, appliances and a variety of other machines used in our daily lives. Wires and cables sheathed with PVC help prevent potentially dangerous electrical accidents.

  • Interiors, vinyl seat covers and interior trim in automobiles use phthalates because of their ability to withstand high temperatures and their effectiveness in making these products more resistant to degradation. PVC coatings and components in cars help prevent corrosion from water and weather elements. Flexible vinyl is also used in cars and trucks to make them lighter and more fuel efficient.  

  • In hospitals around the world flexible PVC also is used in flooring because it is affordable, durable and easy to clean, helping to meet sterility and safety standards.

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. They can be found in a range of everyday items consumers depend on to function properly, including: electrical cables, automobile interiors, flexible hoses, flooring, wall coverings, coated textiles, luggage, sports equipment, roofing membranes, pool liners and footwear.

While they can be employed in a variety of applications, 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.

Flexible PVC

Because phthalates help make PVC resistant to changing weather conditions – maintaining flexibility in cold conditions and resisting degradation in high temperatures – they are used in many outdoor products, including: swimming pool liners, waterproofing for roofs and footwear, like rain boots.

Building and Construction

Phthalates commonly are used in vinyl building materials like flooring and wall coverings to make them flexible, safe, and durable. From energy-efficient roofing, to flexible adhesives and sealants, to durable interior finishes, phthalates are used in building and construction products to make materials and surfaces last longer and to make them easier to maintain.

Flexible vinyl products made with phthalates can reduce the environmental footprint of a building. Because flexible vinyl made with phthalates lasts longer than vinyl alternatives, less energy and other resources are needed to manufacture and install it. In fact, according to industry sources, flexible vinyl takes less energy to produce than many competing products. Flexible vinyl also has unique anti-microbial properties that are critical to fighting germs in hospitals and other healthcare facilities.

Phthalates used to make vinyl flexible and durable are tightly bound in the structure of the material. This fact, together with the lower vapor pressure of the phthalates typically used in building applications, contributes to the long service life of flexible vinyl materials. Phthalates are specifically chosen as plasticizers because they resist extraction, evaporation and migration.

Wire and Cable

Durability, low volatility, heat resistance and electrical resistivity make phthalates a material of choice for protecting wires that run through homes and offices to charge our computers, appliances and a variety of other machines used in our daily lives. Wires and cables sheathed with PVC help prevent potentially dangerous electrical accidents.
 
Automobiles

Interiors, vinyl seat covers and interior trim in automobiles use phthalates because of their ability to withstand high temperatures and their effectiveness in making these products more resistant to degradation. PVC coatings and components in cars help prevent corrosion from water and weather elements. Flexible vinyl is also used in cars and trucks to make them lighter and more fuel efficient.  

Toys 

In the U.S., as of February 2009, three phthalates were permanently prohibited at concentrations greater than 0.1 percent in toys and child care articles. Three other phthalates (DINP, DIDP and DnOP) were temporarily restricted in toys that can be placed in a child’s mouth and child care articles and have been referred to an advisory panel for further study. 

The decision to restrict the use of phthalates in children’s products, however, is not based on science. In September 2012, the National Industrial Chemicals Notification and Assessment Scheme (NICNAS) of the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing joined regulatory bodies in the United States and Europe that have found that current uses of DINP in consumer products are not expected to pose a risk to human health.

NICNAS performed a comprehensive review of the available scientific literature on the phthalate DINP, including the report to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) by the Chronic Hazard Advisory Panel (CHAP) on DINP in 2001 and the most recent publicly available U.S. assessment, the 2010 CPSC staff toxicity report on DINP. » More details about regulatory reviews and toys

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