Pollution Prevention

Industrial uses of di(1,2-Ethylhexyl)phthalate (DEHP)

Introduction

The Toxics Use Reduction Institute is a Massachusetts government research entity that has used the unique usage data from the state pollution and prevention program to create selected chemical fact sheets. The following is from the Turi Di (1,2-Ethylhexyl) Phthalate (DEHP) Fact sheet.

Di (2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP) is the international standard plasticizer for otherwise rigid plastics such as polyvinyl chloride (PVC). DEHP provides excellent flexibility at reasonable cost, and is found in a multitude of industrial, commercial and consumer products. Properties of other plasticizers are usually reported relative to those of DEHP. However, concerns about the human and environmental health impacts associated with the use and exposure to DEHP exist. Thus the adoption of safer alternatives that provide comparable properties should be considered where possible.

Use Nationally and in Massachusetts

As a plasticizer, the primary function of DEHP used in products is to soften otherwise rigid plastics and polymers. An estimated 90% of DEHP is used as a plasticizer for PVC.

The uses of DEHP fall into two major categories: Polymer uses (e.g., consumer products such as footwear, shower curtains and toys, medical devices and commercial/industrial uses) and non-polymer uses (e.g., dielectric fluids, paints, adhesives and inks). Non-polymer uses represent less than 5% of the total DEHP used nationally.

Approximately 45% of total U.S. consumption of DEHP is for plasticizing various industrial and commercial products. Industrial and commercial uses of DEHP include resilient flooring, wall covering, roofing, aluminum foil coating/laminating, paper coating, extrudable molds and profiles, electronic component parts and wire and cable coating and jacketing. Medical devices comprise approximately 25% of total U.S. manufacturer use of DEHP. Medical devices that contain DEHP include PVC sheet materials such as IV bags, and tubing used in a variety of medical applications.

In 2002, U.S. manufacturers produced approximately 240 million pounds of DEHP. The annual U.S. production rate remains constant. In 2004, Massachusetts manufacturers consumed approximately 3.75 million pounds of DEHP.

Table 1 summarizes the historical use of DEHP in Massachusetts for companies using more than 10,000 pounds (the reporting threshold) of DEHP annually. The information on chemical use is based on what has been reported to the Massachusetts Toxics Use Reduction Program for 1990 and 2004. The numbers presented do not reflect production changes in the companies over the time period.

 

Table 1. Massachusetts DEHP Consumption by Industry Sector (1990 – 2004)

Industry Sector

Facility Name

Location

Use (pounds)

1990

2004

Chemical Packaging

Callahan Company

Walpole

0

32,931

George Mann & Company Incorporated

Stoneham

23,400

0

Specialty Paper Products

Rexam DSI (now Intelicoat Technologies Inc.)

West Springfield

15,712

0

Sullivan Paper Company

West Springfield

23,462

0

Electrical Capacitors

Aerovox Incorporated

New Bedford

594,763

0

Cornell Dubilier Company

New Bedford

348,760

0

Footwear

Quabaug Rubber Company

North Brookfield

406,156

0

Medical Devices

Haemonetics Corporation

Braintree

0

307,553

Filtrona Extrusion (also known as Bunzl Extrusion and Pexco Inc.)

Northborough and Athol

335,202

1,044,139

Paints and Pigments

Surface Coatings Incorporated

Wilmington

35,309

0

Stahl USA

Peabody

43,000

0

Plastic Products

Barbour Corporation Incorporated

Brockton

116,598

798,353

Biltrite Corporation

Chelsea

814,456

1,217,859

Plymouth Rubber Company

Canton

251,000

0

Regalite Plastics Corporation

Newton

1,409,103

0

Resins

AlphaGary

Leominster

0

262,699

Berkshire Electric Cable Company

Leeds

561,187

0

Global Products

Leominster

240,128

0

Indusol

Sutton

145,560

0

Lynn Plastics Corporation

Lynn

22,003

0

Teknor Apex Company

Attleboro

3,975,485

12,300

Rubber Products

Armstrong World Industries

Braintree

45,899

0

Polyfibron Technologies Incorporated

Adams

16,743

0

Textiles

Bradford Industries

Lowell

74,840

0

Clark Cutler McDermott

Franklin

236,916

0

Mykrolis Corporation (filter media)

Bedford

0

75,471

Total DEHP Use

9,735,682

3,751,305

 

Figure 1 illustrates the percent change in DEHP use by industry sector. As shown, five of these sectors have experienced 100% reduction in their reportable use of DEHP. While the companies in the Rubber Products sector no longer manufacture in Massachusetts, both the Footwear and Electrical Capacitors industry sectors have largely moved away from the use of DEHP towards other less toxic chemicals. The Paints and Pigments sector has also reduced all use of DEHP below reporting thresholds. Surface Coatings, of Wilmington was able to eliminate its use of DEHP in its non-acrylic paint products as well.

 

caption Figure1. Illustrates percent change in DEHP

 

The Specialty Paper Products sector eliminated its use of DEHP in the early 1990s. Both companies still manufacture in Massachusetts (Rexam has moved its operations to South Hadley and now operates under the name Intelicoat Technologies) but have modified their processes to avoid the need for the plasticized polymer coating previously used.

Other industry sectors that experienced significant reductions in the use of DEHP from 1990 to 2004 include the Plastics Products, Textiles and Resins sectors.

  • The Plastics Products sector exhibited a variety of responses to market challenges over the study period. One company, Plymouth Rubber, was able to reduce its use of DEHP below reportable amounts within two years of the implementation of the TURA program. On the other hand, two companies, Biltrite Corporation (a manufacturer of industrial grade vinyl flooring products), and Barbour Corp (a manufacturer of molded marine products) increased their production and therefore use of DEHP substantially.
  • The Textiles sector includes two companies (Bradford Industries and Clark Cutler McDermott) manufacturing fabric for a variety of uses. Each of these companies reduced their use of DEHP below reportable amounts in the early 1990s. The third company, Mykrolis, a division of Millipore Corporation, has reported relatively constant manufacturing of flat sheet hollow fiber filter membranes.
  • The Resins sector has also had a variety of responses to market pressures over the course of the TURA program. Two companies in the coated wire and cable industry (Berkshire Electric Cable and Global Products) reduced their use of DEHP below reportable amounts. Two polymer resin compounders, AlphaGary and Teknor Apex, continue to use DEHP in certain flexible products, though the trend is toward significantly reduced DEHP use as this industry develops other viable plasticizer alternatives.

Data from two industry sectors show increases in the use of DEHP from 1990 to 2004. The Medical Device sector has experienced the most dramatic increase in the use of DEHP along with significant increases in production over that time period. Both Filtrona and Haemonetics primarily manufacture flexible tubing for the health care industry, though they also manufacture bags and sheet materials for health care applications.

Massachusetts Inputs and Outputs

 

caption Figure2. Inputs and Outputs of DEHP

 

The change from 1990 to 2004 in absolute amount of inputs and outputs in Massachusetts is shown in Figure 2. Inputs include DEHP that is manufactured or processed, as well as DEHP that is “otherwise used” – ancillary uses that do not become incorporated into the final product. Outputs include DEHP that is generated as byproduct (i.e., all non-product material created by a process line prior to release, on-site treatment, or transfer) and the amount of DEHP that is shipped in or as product. As shown, the majority of DEHP used is manufactured or processed and subsequently shipped in product.

As shown in Figure 2, both inputs and outputs have been significantly reduced overall in the Commonwealth from 1990 to 2004. Specifically, from 1990 to 2004 the amount of DEHP manufactured or processed was reduced by 64%, while the amount shipped in product over the same time period was reduced by 63%[1].

Overall, Massachusetts has experienced a 61% reduction in the use of DEHP since 1990.

Regulatory Context

The US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulate DEHP. In addition, several states have specific restrictions on DEHP.

The OSHA permissible exposure limit (PEL) for DEHP is 5 milligrams per cubic meter (mg/m3) 8-hour time weighted average.

The US EPA regulates DEHP in a number of ways:

  • A maximum contaminant level for ingestion of water and contaminated aquatic organisms (such as fish and shellfish) = 6 parts of DEHP per billion parts of water.
  • Health based limits for exclusion of waste-derived residues = 30 mg/kg.
  • As a hazardous constituent of wastes from cleaning equipment and tanks used in paint manufacturing – hazardous waste number U028.

The US FDA regulates the chemical as an unintentional food additive.

Clean Water Act related regulatory restrictions in New England states include:

  • Massachusetts: Reference dose = 2x10-2 mg/kg/day, oral slope factor = 1.4x10-2 mg/kg/day
  • New Hampshire: Regulated toxic air pollutant = OEL 5 mg/m3
  • Maine: Drinking water guideline 25 micrograms per liter (?g/L)
  • Rhode Island and Vermont: Groundwater quality standard = 6 ?g/L, Preventive action limit = 3 ?g/L
  • Connecticut: Direct exposure criteria for soil, residential = 44 mg/kg, industrial/commercial = 410 mg/kg

Finally, DEHP is regulated as a carcinogen (since 1988) and a developmental toxicant (since 2003) under the California State Proposition 65. This regulation requires businesses to provide a "clear and reasonable" warning before knowingly and intentionally exposing anyone to DEHP[2].

Further Reading

Endnotes

^ 1. Bizzari et al “Plasticizers” Chemical Economics Handbook 2002; Toxics Use Reduction Institute “Toxics Use Reduction Act data release for reporting year 2004” 2005, see webpage: http://turadata.turi.org

^ 2. Bureau of National Affairs “Environmental Reporter” 2001; California Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986 (Chapter 6.6 added by Proposition 65 1986 General Election) Section 25249.5; EPA 2001 40 CFR 141.32(e)(62), 40 CFR 266 Appendix VII, 40 CFR 261.33 and 40 CFR 302.4; Hazardous Substance Data Bank 2000, see webpage: http://www.toxnet.nlm.nih.gov; OSHA 2001b (29 CFR 1910.1000)

Editor's Notes

 

 

 

Disclaimer: This article is taken wholly from, or contains information that was originally published by, the Toxics Use Reduction Institute. Topic editors and authors for the Encyclopedia of Earth may have edited its content or added new information. The use of information from the Toxics Use Reduction Institute should not be construed as support for or endorsement by that organization for any new information added by EoE personnel, or for any editing of the original content.

Glossary

Citation

Institute, T., & Civie, P. (2013). Industrial uses of di(1,2-Ethylhexyl)phthalate (DEHP). Retrieved from http://www.eoearth.org/view/article/51cbee397896bb431f696404