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 vinyl are used because of their strong performance, durability and stability. Because they are used to soften vinyl and make it flexible, in these applications they are called “plasticizers.” These phthalate 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.
What are phthalates?
- 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 coverings, 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, inks, and cosmetics.