Recently, there have been many “phthalate-free” initiatives that rely on inaccurate or misleading information to try to convince consumers to avoid many common, and safe products that you may rely on.

The High Phthalates Panel has many resources to help you learn more about high molecular weight phthalates and their critical uses.

What Are High Phthalates?

High phthalates are a family of compounds mainly used as a vinyl – or plastic – softener. They are colorless, odorless liquids that when mixed into PVC, sometimes referred to as “vinyl”, make what is normally a hard, brittle plastic into one that is softer and flexible.

High phthalates are so named because of their heavy molecular weight, with 7 to 13 carbon atoms connected to the main molecule. Because they are large, heavy molecules, high phthalates are tightly bound into the PVC polymer and are not very mobile, which means they do not evaporate or migrate readily from the finished PVC product.

High phthalates are used in common items like:

  • Garden hoses and swimming pool liners
  • Waterproof clothing and luggage
  • Wallcoverings and window shades
  • And so much more! 

High phthalates are an essential part of many products we use every day.

Where are high phthalates commonly used?

Phthalates Automotive Infographic

Interiors, vinyl seat covers and interior trim in automobiles use high 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.

Phthalates are widely used, and yet actual exposure levels are hundreds or thousands of times below levels of concern established by regulatory authorities.

Phthalate House

High phthalates are a family of chemical compounds primarily used to make polyvinyl chloride (PVC)—or vinyl—flexible, pliant and durable. Flexible vinyl products made with high phthalates can help reduce a building’s environmental footprint. Phthalates are widely used, and even when scientists hypothesize extreme exposures from phthalates in building products, because of unique properties of high phthalates, the predicted exposure levels are hundreds or thousands of times below any level of concern established by regulatory authorities.

What Does the Science Say About the Health and Safety of High Phthalates?

ACC’s High Phthalates Panel has put together substantial resources about the health and safety of these important chemicals that can be fully read here.

High Phthalates have been thoroughly studied and reviewed by a number of government scientific agencies and regulatory bodies world-wide and these agencies have concluded that high 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.

Removing high phthalates from products could mean the loss of essential properties that consumers rely on.


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