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.
Studies indicate that DEHP is a potential human carcinogen and that it likely impacts developmental and reproductive processes of, in particular, male infants. The oral toxicity of DEHP in humans is limited to gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms (mild abdominal pain and diarrhea.
The Massachusetts legislature requested that the Institute conduct a scientific study to assess the availability of technically and economically feasible safer alternatives for five toxic or hazardous chemicals, one of which was DEHP. More recently, the TURI Academic Research program has supported investigations into greener plastics for specific applications.
The Plastics Products, Textiles and Resins sectors experienced reductions in the use of DEHP from 1990-2004.
Increases in the use of DEHP occured in the Medical Device sector.