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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 producted approximately 240 million pounds of DEHP. The annual U.S. production rate remains constant.

In 2004, Massachusetts manufactuers 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.

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.

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

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%.

Endnotes

Bizzari et al. "Plasticizers" Chemical Economics Handbook 2002; Toxics Use Reduction Institute "Toxics Use Reduction Act Data Release for Reporting Year 2004" 2005, see: http://turadata.turi.org