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More science on DEHP’s negative health effects, while Commission considers its authorisation

Whilst the EU Commission is about to decide whether to authorise a use of the di (2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP) in PVC articles for consumer use, more scientific results on the negative health effects of the chemical become available.

A new rodent study on the phthalate DEHP has shown that it may have negative effects on reproduction, including the endpoints of time to pregnancy, offspring mortality, and male to female ratio in offspring.

The study, which looked at effects on mice of prenatal exposure to DEHP, is the latest of many studies about negative effects arising from DEHP exposure on reproduction. Another study recently released indicates male reproductive problems from prenatal DEHP and DINP exposure.

The phthalate DEHP is a ‘Substance of Very High Concern’ in the EU REACH chemicals management system, and cannot be used without an authorisation. The EU Commission, as the final decision-maker for REACH authorisations, will shortly decide on an application for the use of DEHP in PVC articles for consumer use, which could entail continued public and environmental exposure to this reproductive toxicant. HEAL calls on EU Commissioners Bienkowska and Vella to reject the continued use of DEHP in PVC articles.

Already in November 2014, 55 European and international civil society organisations asked the EU Commission to reject the authorisation of DEHP in PVC plastic, primarily because there are alternatives to PVC on the European market, and because such uses will expose the public.

Meanwhile, the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) and the Danish Government are working together to prepare a proposal for a REACH Restriction that would restrict four phthalates including DEHP in articles. The restriction process can be used in REACH when the use of a chemical in an article is considered to pose a health or environmental risk that is not adequately controlled. A restriction can address phthalates in imported articles, which the authorisation process cannot, because that deals only with chemicals and articles made in the EU. Since Denmark initially tried to get a restriction proposal on these 4 phthalates accepted in 2011, data from the European co-funded project of EU Human Biomonitoring, DEMOCOPHES, showed exposure to phthalates across many European countries in children, including at levels near or equivalent to the levels considered to pose a risk.

Further information: HEAL article on cophes/democophes

Originally posted on 7 May 2015

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