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Assessing and Managing Chemicals under TSCA

Risk Management for Phthalates

What are Phthalates?

Phthalates are high production volume chemicals used primarily as plasticizers in polyvinylchloride (PVC) products. Eight chemicals are included in the Phthalates Action Plan (PDF): dibutyl phthalate (DBP), diisobutyl phthalate (DIBP), butyl benzyl phthalate (BBP), di-n-pentyl phthalate (DnPP), di (2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP), di-n-octyl phthalate (DnOP), diisononyl phthalate (DINP), and diisodecyl phthalate (DIDP).

Why is EPA concerned?

EPA is concerned about phthalates because of their toxicity and the evidence of pervasive human and environmental exposure to these chemicals.

Phthalates are used in many industrial and consumer products, many of which pose potentially high exposure. Phthalates have been detected in food and also measured in humans.

Adverse effects on the development of the reproductive system in male laboratory animals are the most sensitive health outcomes from phthalate exposure. Several studies have shown associations between phthalate exposures and human health, although no causal link has been established. Recent scientific attention has focused on whether the cumulative effect of several phthalates may multiply the reproductive effects in the organism exposed.

What action is EPA taking?

  • December 17, 2014: EPA issued a Significant New Use Rule (SNUR) under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) for DnPP. This rule requires manufacturers (including importers) and processors of DnPP to notify EPA at least 90 days before starting or resuming new uses of this chemical, excluding use as a chemical standard for analytical experiments. This notice allows EPA the opportunity to evaluate the intended use and, if necessary, to prohibit or limit that activity.

  • October 23, 2014: EPA updated its list of Work Plan chemicals for assessment by adding a group of phthalates, among other chemicals, for evaluation. The update reflects new data on chemical releases and potential exposures. Learn more.

  • August 2011: EPA began conducting a Design for the Environment and Green Chemistry alternatives assessment on certain phthalates. The information developed could be used to encourage industry to move away from phthalates

Previous actions